Troubling details emerge as Ethiopia restores Tigray communication

By December 18, 2020

Ethiopia (MNN) — Ethiopia’s military has claimed no civilian deaths since hostilities began in the Tigray region last month. However, Ethiopian doctors tell BBC News a different story. Two physicians who escaped the war zone report multiple civilian casualties.

Tensions between Ethiopia’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) came to a head in early November. Several weeks of armed conflict followed, sending thousands of refugees to neighboring countries. According to the latest UN update, clashes continue despite the Ethiopian government’s claim in late November.

Officials restored some communication services in Tigray earlier this week, blaming a cyberattack for the blackout. The European Union postponed a $109 million aid payment to Ethiopia due to a lack of humanitarian access in the conflict zone.

“One of the challenges right now is to understand what’s happening,” Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton says.

“Getting information out of that area is very, very difficult, even for my coworkers here at Voice of the Martyrs.”

Eritrea’s involvement in the Tigray conflict poses another problem.

Why is Eritrea problematic?

As described here, following Christ in Eritrea is extremely difficult. In 2002, the government outlawed every religion except Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and the Lutheran Church. Evangelical churches are highly persecuted and must meet secretly.

Some Eritrean Christians fled across the border and into Ethiopia’s Tigray region. “They came to Ethiopia where they have been welcomed and protected,” Nettleton says.

Now, with “Eritrean soldiers coming across the border, coming right into the region where these camps are for refugees, that presents a great challenge and potentially a great threat to these Eritrean Christians.”

(Photo courtesy VOM USA)

The future remains uncertain, but we know the God who holds tomorrow.

“Pray for Eritrean Christians who are in this region and are at risk as long as Eritrean soldiers are allowed to come across that border and conduct operations,” Nettleton requests.

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“I think it’s a ‘watch and wait’ situation,” Nettleton says, referring to the Tigray conflict.

“The Ethiopian government said they had won this, it’s over, [but] the Tigray people are saying no, it’s not over.”



Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Gift Habeshaw via Unsplash.