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ETHIOPIAN CONFLICT DEEPENS AS AMHARA LEADER CALLS YOUTH TO JOIN THE FIGHT

Ethiopia

Agegnehu Teshager, the chief administrator in Amhara, called on all young people who are armed to mobilise to combat Tigrayan forces, in the latest developments in the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia. Teshager made the call for all who can join the “survival campaign” to do so after Tigrayan forces took control of the town of Adi Arkay in Amhara, the region neighbouring Tigray to the south. Amhara and Tigray have been embroiled in a decades-long land dispute that has added fuel to the conflict between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian government. A ceasefire was declared in June, however, it did not last long, as TPLF fighters regained control of the Tigray capital of Mekelle, and then advanced into the Amhara and Afar regions. Troops from Amhara have been fighting in support of the federal government’s aim to drive out the TPLF forces, and leaders from six other regions have also sent troops to fight the TPLF. Tigrayan forces voiced their intent to continue to try to take control of areas to the south and west of the Tigray region, to re-establish pre-war land boundaries. A media blackout in Tigray and some conflicting reports have made it difficult to accurately assess who is in control of what territory. The TPLF’s advance into the Afar region could prove problematic, as the main road and railway linking the capital of Addis Ababa to Djibouti’s seaport pass through the region. The conflict has already delayed critical humanitarian aid to millions of displaced people who now face potential famine. Any further disruption to the economic sector could have disastrous consequences for Ethiopia’s population.

FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

POPULATION: ± 116.9 MILLION CHRISTIAN: 58.3%
EVANGELICAL: 18.04%
UNREACHED GROUPS: 37 (29.1% of pop.)

The conflict between Tigray and Amhara has further exacerbated both the social and spiritual struggles facing Ethiopia. Despite many Ethiopians within Tigray and Amhara sharing many cultural similarities, the message of tribalism promoted by the TPLF has caused division among a once united country. When the TPLF held significant political power in the Ethiopian government, they drifted away from the ‘one Ethiopia’ ideology and tried to create further independence for individual tribes. An INcontext contact explained the damage that this tribal ideology has done to Ethiopia, especially within the current conflict: “As a Christian, I don’t believe that tribalism is God’s idea. As a nation, we [Ethiopia] are strong. All of humanity has a lot in common, but we as Ethiopians really have a lot in common. Recently, this tribalism, this passion for one’s tribe, it’s not helping. The Church and church leaders are really fighting against this tribalism.” Tigrayans and Amharans share a similar culture, language, and many customs, and, according to this contact, Ethiopians should rather focus on that which they have in common, and work towards cohesiveness. “We are teaching and preaching for this nation to stand together,” he added. “We are praying for God to do a miracle; for people to stop fighting and to start talking.” The heavy military presence surrounding Tigray has made it difficult for aid workers, missionaries, and church leaders to have access to those who are hurting due to the conflict. When the Ethiopian government was in Mekelle, there was an open line of communication between church leaders and the government, allowing believers to help with aid distribution and personal counselling and discipleship. The withdrawal of the federal military has also led to an increased sense of isolation for believers in Tigray. The global body of believers can continue to pray for the strengthening of the Ethiopian Church, both in spirit and relationships.

Please pray with us for the following:

  • For a resolution to the conflict and for all parties involved to be willing to engage in dialogue
  • For the restoration of communication and relationships between the Church in Tigray and other regions, and for the Church to gain ground in overcoming tribalism
  • For Ethiopian believers to be creative in reaching out to, and pursuing peace-making with neighbours and those from other tribes

 

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Image: REUTERS/Giulia Paravicini

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