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ETHIOPIA: Salesian missionaries aid close to 8,000 families in wake of ongoing violence

Bombing in conflict areas has increased in recent weeks along with civilian deaths


(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries are continuing to help support youth and their families while conditions grow more perilous because of the year-long armed conflict in the Tigray region between the Ethiopian army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Salesians are helping and providing aid to close to 8,000 families, paying special attention to mothers and malnourished children.

“The need for food is increasing every day and any help that arrives will save the lives of many starving and malnourished people. We are grateful for the solidarity received from Salesian circles all over the world, with the hope and prayer that peace may finally prevail,” reports a Salesian missionary in Ethiopia.

During a Nov. 5 raid by government military forces, 17 priests, religious brothers and employees at the Salesian Center Gottera in Addis Ababa were arrested for no reason and taken to an unknown place. In a situation marked by suffering, poverty, fear and absolute insecurity, all Christians in Ethiopia hope that the Pope’s appeal, and the intervention of the African Union and that of the U.S. envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, will help calm the situation.

“We are shocked by the news of the arrest of Ethiopian and Eritrean priests, deacons and lay people who lived and worked in the Salesian Provincial House,” said Father Mussie Zerai, president of the Habeisha agency to Fides. “We still do not understand what the reasons for such a serious act are. Why are priests arrested who exercise their educational mandate, especially in a center that has always been committed to doing good, which has been visited by many children for years and where street children are rehabilitated.”

Bombing in conflict areas has also increased in recent weeks along with the number of civilian deaths. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that 400,000 people are starving. Another 7 million people need help to survive in Tigray, Amhara and Afar. It is estimated that the conflict has caused thousands of deaths, two million internally displaced persons, and more than 100,000 refugees to flee to Sudan.

Acute malnutrition is increasing every day. Almost half of pregnant and lactating women suffer from acute malnutrition and lack health care because of the number of destroyed hospitals. According to the U.N., the famine generated by the war could kill 100,000 children in the coming months, when three out of four people will not have access to food.

International organizations are also hindered in providing support because they are banned from entering conflict zones. Others have seen their members expelled and still others have left the country due to widespread insecurity. The lack of fuel is also hampering emergency aid from reaching the Tigray region. With the closure of the banks and the lack of money, the population simply does not have access to basic products for daily consumption.

Salesian missionaries continue to assess the situation and provide education, humanitarian aid and support to youth and their families. More help is needed and the Salesian Missions Office in Madrid has relaunched its Ethiopia Emergency appeal.

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than 38 percent of its population living in poverty, according to Feed the Future. Close to 85 percent of the country’s workforce is employed in agriculture, but frequent droughts severely affect the agricultural economy leaving more than 12 million people chronically, or at least periodically, food insecure. In addition, more than two-thirds of the population is illiterate.



ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

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