The country on the Horn of Africa is a land of many contrasts. Despite strong economic growth, great poverty exists in many areas. In some regions, Islam has become increasingly radicalised in recent years. In addition, the conflict between the government and the insurgents in the Tigray region has been intensifying for two years. Church representatives are also said to have been killed in the process. ACN supports the Catholic Church, which is in the minority in Ethiopia, to the best of its ability.
Around 100 ethnic groups live in Ethiopia. Almost 58% of the 113 million inhabitants are Orthodox Christians. The proportion of Muslims currently stands at 34%. Catholics make up only about 1% of the country’s population. Nevertheless, the Church runs many schools, kindergartens and social institutions. There are many baptisms, especially in areas where people still belong to traditional tribal religions.
Since November 2020, the central government in northern Ethiopia has been fighting against regional militias of the “Tigray People’s Liberation Front”. In 2021, the conflict spread to other parts of the country. Priests and religious are also said to have been killed. However, after fears in November that the rebels might even march into the capital Addis Ababa, government troops managed to push back the insurgents. There is no end to the conflict in sight.
Rape is used as a weapon of war.
In early 2022, the Catholic bishops raised their voices against mass rape used as a weapon of war. For ACN, proclamation of the faith was once again the top priority in Ethiopia in 2021. We supported numerous projects for the education and training of priests, religious and lay people, as well as the implementation of pastoral programmes. Youth pastoral care is a priority, since it supports young people who want to work for a better future in their homeland instead of leaving the country. In the year under review, we also supported the construction of churches and chapels and helped finance vehicles for pastoral care.
Christian heritage in danger
The Church is greatly concerned about the Tigray conflict. They fear further casualties and they also consider Ethiopia’s rich Christian heritage to be at risk in the disputed areas. The city of Lalibela is home to the famous rock-hewn churches. There is the Ark of the Covenant in Axum, in which, according to tradition, the stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments were stored.