Holy See urges solidarity and action for Ethiopia’s humanitarian crisis

Mekelle:  21 April 2024 (Tigray Herald)

Holy See urges solidarity and action for Ethiopia’s humanitarian crisis

The Holy See emphasises the need for solidarity and urgent action in response to Ethiopia’s humanitarian crisis, stressing the dire conditions of over 4.4 million internally displaced people and over one million refugees, along with severe drought, malnutrition, and economic difficulties.

Internally displaced women carry jerrycans in the makeshift camp where they are sheltered in Erebti, Ethiopia 

Expressing solidarity with Ethiopia, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organisations in Geneva, highlighted the plight of over 4.4 million internally displaced people and over one million refugees.

At the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia, taking place in Geneva on 16 April, Arcbishop Balestrero spoke on behalf of the Holy See when he said that the meeting was an expression of solidarity with “a Country enduring a profound humanitarian crisis”.

The Archbishop emphasised the urgency and scale of the mission, which he said “compels us to act with solidarity and support”.

A catastrophe

He explained that Ethiopia is grappling with the consequences of conflict, disease outbreaks, and the fifth consecutive failed rainy season, resulting in the most severe drought conditions in decades. “These catastrophic events”, he explained, “have led to increased malnutrition rates, affecting in particular one million children and numerous women”.

Exacerbating the situation in the country are the severe economic difficulties, such as inflation and disrupted trade. In light of these difficulties, the Archbishop noted that “the Ethiopian authorities and various international partners have responded with remarkable resolve and commitment”. However, he continued, there is still a significant funding shortfall.

Pope Francis’ support

Pope Francis has emphasised the severity of the humanitarian crisis and the pressing need for solidarity with the affected populations. Reflecting his deep concern, Archbishop Balestrero noted that “the Holy See supports the appeals of the Ethiopian Episcopal Conference for immediate action and humanitarian aid and highly appreciates the convening of this High-level Pledging Event”.

The Church in Ethiopia

The Catholic Church in Ethiopia, although a minority, plays a pivotal role in providing and distributing aid to populations affected by food insecurity and victims of other emergencies. Archbishop Balestrero recalled that in 2023, the activities of the local Catholic Churches benefitted nearly 6 million people in nine of the country’s twelve regions, regardless of their religious affiliation. The projects focused mainly on humanitarian aid and food security. “These figures do not include the significant amount of financial support provided by other international Catholic agencies”.

Concluding his discourse, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero reiterated that “today, the Holy See is renewing its commitment”. This is not out of obligation, he added, “but rather a profound sense of shared humanity, religious duty and moral obligation”.

“Let us act quickly and provide unwavering support to ensure that we make every effort to bring security, stability, and peace through our collective response to the humanitarian needs of Ethiopia”, he said.

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Source፡Vatican News

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