Refugee children who fled Ethiopia's Tigray conflict wait in a line for a food distribution by Muslim Aid at the Um Raquba refugee camp in Sudan's Gedaref state on Dec. 12, 2020. (Photo: AFP)
Pope Francis has appealed for humanitarian aid to reach people in the famine-hit Tigray region in Ethiopia.
During his Angelus prayer on June 13, the pope prayed and expressed his thoughts for the suffering people in the African nation.
“I am particularly close to the people of the Tigray region in Ethiopia, struck by a serious humanitarian crisis which exposes the poorest to famine,” he said.
“Let us pray together that the violence will cease immediately, that food and health care will be guaranteed to all, and that social harmony will be restored as soon as possible.”
In November, the pope also invited everyone to pray and hold talks to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ethiopia.
The United Nations and aid groups estimate that some 350,000 people in Tigray are facing famine and 2 million more people are just a step away from those extreme conditions.
This is clearly genocide against the people of Tigray. This is not just fighting, they are killing everybody
UNHCR recently warned that an estimated 30,000 people plus severely malnourished children in those highly inaccessible areas are at high risk of death.
The UN has also appealed for more than US$200 million to scale up its response as more than 90 percent of more than 5 million people in the Tigray region need emergency food aid.
More than 2 million people fled Tigray before the harvest season following the war that erupted in November.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent troops to the region in November to disarm leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
A Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, recently reported a targeting of young people, indiscriminate killings and widespread sexual violence as part of a genocide against the Tigrayan ethnic group of northern Ethiopia.
“This is clearly genocide against the people of Tigray. This is not just fighting, they are killing everybody — that is a sign of genocide,” a source told the group.
Patriarch Mathias, the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, also described events including massacres, rape, the bombing of churches and the use of famine as a weapon of war.