Ethiopia (MNN) — The Ethiopian government has given leaders of the mountainous Tigray region an ultimatum: surrender in 72 hours or face an all-out assault on Mekelle, the capital of Tigray.
Ethiopian military leaders have warned civilians living in Mekelle to flee, saying there would be “no mercy” during the attack. They promise tanks will encircle and bombard the city with artillery fire. The Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, is urging Ethiopia to protect all civilians, even those in Mekelle.
The civil war between the government of Ethiopia and forces loyal to the northern Tigray region has stretched on for weeks. Hundreds have died, and at least 36,000 refugees have fled across the border into Sudan.
Potential trouble for Christians in the region
Todd Nettleton, the host of Voice of the Martyrs Radio with Voice of the Martyrs USA, says he worries about Christians living in the region during this tumultuous time. “One of the specifics about the Tigray region that affects Christians is the entrance of Eritrea into the conflict and Eritrean forces coming across that border. There are many Eritrean refugees along that border, including many Christians. And some of those are Christians who left Eritrea because of persecution. It’s hard to imagine Eritrean troops would be very kind to them if they locate them and if they understand that they fled Eritrea because of persecution.”
Nettleton says persecution of Christians in Ethiopia has already increased this year. The conflict may provide cover for more religious violence. He says this persecution has come “not typically from the national government, but from local forces. Depending on where they are in the country, that might be radical Muslims. It might be radical Orthodox [Christians] who are upset about the growth of the evangelical church.”
One horrific massacre of civilians has already taken place under the cover of the civil war. Read more here.
How to pray
Nettleton urges readers to pray that the government of Ethiopia and Tigray officials will come to peace and end the bloodshed in the region. Pray civilians will not be targeted by any violence in Mekelle or other places.
Pray also for the Eritrean Christians in the region that they will not be harmed by Eritrean soldiers coming over the border.
The header photo shows the city of Mekelle, capital of the Tigray Region in northern Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Free Art License)