Serving God's People in Africa since 1868

Emergency Humanitarian Crisis in Ethiopia

I have just received an urgent letter from Fr. Bonaventure Bwanakweri, leader of the Missionaries of Africa serving in Ethiopia. The letter (which I just received this morning) describes in detail the devastating events that have resulted in not only ongoing war in the country but the ongoing crisis that is affecting innocent men, women, and children throughout the region.


I have just received an urgent letter from Fr. Bonaventure Bwanakweri, leader of the Missionaries of Africa serving in Ethiopia. The letter (which I just received this morning) describes in detail the devastating events that have resulted in not only ongoing war in the country but the ongoing crisis that is affecting innocent men, women, and children throughout the region.

Families fleeing the violence in Tigray.

“The crisis first erupted during the night of November 3, 2020,” Fr. Bonaventure writes. “Although tensions had been rising between the regional government in Tigray and Ethiopia’s central government in Addis Ababa in the wake of the regional election — none of us were expecting a military confrontation. But when we woke on the morning of November 4, we knew something was wrong. The electricity had been shut off and the cell phone network was down. Since that day, there has been war in Tigray Region and the loss of life and the damage to property continue to take a toll on us!”

“When the violence erupted, our confreres decided not to evacuate. It is the calling of a Missionary — doing the work of Christ, no matter what the risk. Two of our Missionaries were held hostage for some time and one of our cars was taken. The confreres in our compound were living in fear . . . of looting by soldiers; of armed thieves coming to steal anything and everything; of running out of food and water — and running out of money to pay for basic needs. They also feared an escalation in fighting between the various military and para-military groups.”

Refugees fleeing Tigray Region

“On January 12, an armed group the compound and tied up our Missionaries,” taking everything they could — money, computers, electronics and food supplies. The following day some of our Missionaries were forced to leave. The same thing happened to other religious groups in the area; every institution was looted.”

“Last week, I traveled to Tigray Region and visited our communities in Wukro and Adigrat. I also met with other missionaries who shared with me all that has happened since the war began. Their eyewitness accounts were heartbreaking. What I saw with my own eyes, though, has shaken me to the core.

“While no one is saying how many people have died thus far, it appears that the number of innocent men, women, and children who have been killed is in the thousands. Many bodies have yet to be buried. Survivors are struggling to get food, and many are dying because of hunger. Particularly vulnerable are young children, the elderly, and pregnant as well as nursing mothers. Rape and violence against women has also been widespread.”

One of the hospitals looted.

“In addition to the looting of missions such as ours, hospitals and clinics have also been vandalized, looted and destroyed. No one seems to have been spared from the violence. I am humbling requesting emergency assistance in whatever way you can help us.”

In addition to Fr. Bonaventure’s letter, news outlets and media are also reporting the need for URGENT humanitarian aid and relief for the people of Tigray Region. Fr. Bonaventure has stated that as many as 2,700,000 people are in need of emergency food, water, and medicine. As this crisis continues to unfold, the Missionaries of Africa are hoping to raise at least $50,000 for those suffering in Tigray. I hope that you can help! Please know that whatever amount you send will be used to provide immediate aid to those who are suffering. Every dollar counts!

 

Your Missionary Friend,

Denis P. Pringle
Director of Development