By Fredrick Nzwili, Catholic News Service
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — As fighting resumed in northern Ethiopia, the nation’s bishops urged both parties to prioritize peace, saying women, children and the elderly had been most affected.
In an appeal titled “No More War!” the bishops urged “all parties to cede their weapons and return to the peace option, to prioritize dialogue and an option that will end the suffering of our citizens.” The statement was dated Aug. 18 but was released Sept. 2.
The fighting has shaped into a full-scale war between the federal government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front since Aug. 24.
The renewed fighting broke a five-month humanitarian truce the government announced in May to allow aid to reach millions of needy people in the state of Tigray. During the period, some food, medicines and other basic needs reached the region, but church leaders there feared it was too little, too late.
Each side is blaming the opposite for the fresh fighting.
The bishops said the fighting resumed as people had hopes for peace and noted that many people “are suffering from hunger, disease and psychological damage” and have been displaced from their homes. “Our entire country is struggling under the pressure of the cost of living.”
“The church … longs that the agony of the people living in Tigray, Amhara, Afar and other areas of the country be stopped,” said the bishops.
Meanwhile, news reports indicate that at least 50 people were killed in the western region of Oromia. The region, which includes the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa, has continued to experience violent attacks, apart from the fighting in the North.
The war in Tigray started in November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali announced military action against TPLF. He had accused the force of attacking a national army base in Mekele, the regional capital.