NAIROBI, Kenya — Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin of Adigrat called for an immediate end to aerial bombardment in Tigray, the Ethiopian region where a deadly conflict has unfolded since last November.
In a recorded video statement, the bishop said the bombardment was destroying lives, property, civilians and institutions, in a government war of ethnic cleansing in the region.
“The people of Tigray are condemned to be cleansed by desolation, bullets and famine,” said Medhin, who for many months had been cut off from the rest of the nation’s bishops.
He said the Catholic Church has constantly called for a peaceful end to the war, which began in November 2020, but added the government has stepped up its action, fueling the destruction.
Ethiopia has deprived Tigray of its budget, denied humanitarian food aid access and cut all services, including electricity, telephone, medicine, internet, air and transportation.
The Catholic Church — like all Tigrayans — has not been spared in the war, Medhin explained. He said local and foreign armies were exerting physical, psychological and physical attacks on laity, priests and religious sisters.
He condemned the continued detention of the head of the Salesians in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, as well as other Tigrayans.
Churches, rectories, schools and health centers have been bombed and looted. The bishop said the church’s 14 vehicles have been taken away, and solar installations and lab equipment have been stolen.
Medhin said he regretted that a recent report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the U.N. Commission on Human Rights was incomplete, did not represent the reality on the ground and did not reveal justice and the truth about widespread atrocities. He asked that “all the atrocities be investigated afresh by an independent international body.”
The bishop asked the Ethiopian Catholic Church to come break its silence with a voice for justice against the atrocities and act as mother and shepherd of all peoples.