THE secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, is among the church leaders around the world who have signed a pastoral letter to the Churches and people of Ethiopia in response to the upsurge in fighting in the Tigray region (News, 27 November).
Official estimates put the death toll in the conflict between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Ethiopian National Defence Force at 1000, but humanitarian agencies say that the figure is many times higher. The fighting has also led to a refugee crisis as people flee the violence.
In the letter, Dr Idowu-Fearon and his counterparts say: “We join you in grieving for the deaths, injuries, displacement and divisions resulting from the tragic conflict in the northern part of the country. We are deeply concerned about the hardship and loss inflicted on the civilian population, especially the most vulnerable including women, children and the physically challenged.”
Among the signatories are the general secretaries of the Lutheran World Federation, the Revd Dr Martin Junge, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the Revd Chris Ferguson, and the World Methodist Council, Bishop Ivan Abrahams, and the interim general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Ioan Sauca.
They write: “We commiserate with all who have lost loved ones because of this crisis and pray for God’s comfort in their grief. We lament the fact that this conflict has added heavily to the constellation of concurrent crises already afflicting the people of Ethiopia — including the attacks targeting specific ethnic and religious groups, regional tensions associated with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the worst locust plague in 25 years, serious impacts on food production, and the Covid-19 pandemic. . .
“We encourage you to continue inviting the people of Ethiopia to choose peaceful ways to address conflicts and differences. And we pray that you be granted strength and wisdom to minister to the people of Ethiopia in this hour of need. We pray with you for an end to the conflict, the safe return of those who have been displaced, and for an inclusive reconciliation process that will lead to sustainable peace for all in Ethiopia.”