Irish Jesuit urges President Higgins to highlight Tigray war

Irish Jesuit urges President Higgins to highlight Tigray war An Afari militia member walks next to a house destroyed in the fight between the Ethiopian military and the Tigray People's Liberation Front forces in Kasagita, Ethiopia, Feb. 25, 2022. Catholic bishops in Ethiopia have expressed deep sadness at the resumption of fighting in the north of the country while urging parties to prioritize peace. (CNS photo/Tiksa Negeri, Reuters)

The director of Irish Jesuits International (IJI) has urged the President of Ireland to “use every platform possible” to highlight the war in Tigray.

Fr John Guiney SJ lamented the lack of coverage given to the war in the North of Ethiopia, which has claimed the lives of half a million people since November 2020.

In a letter sent to Michael D. Higgins, Fr Guiney says IJI are calling for “urgent action and humanitarian support” for the “innocent victims of the war” raging between Ethiopian and Tigrayan forces.

“The Tigray conflict is a severe humanitarian crisis and one which the media has largely ignored as countless people suffer grave human rights violations,” writes Fr Guiney.

“We kindly ask the President to use his immense influence and platform to highlight the war in Tigray and join with us in amplifying the innocent voices of suffering and peace which are currently silenced.”

Speaking to The Irish Catholic, Fr Guiney encouraged the Irish Government to use its platform on the UN security council to highlight the war.

Fr Guiney’s comments come as a report from the United Nations found evidence of crimes against humanity by all sides involved in the conflict.

The main forces involved in the war are the Tigray Defence Forces, the Ethiopian National Defence Force and Eritrean Defence Forces.

On the Ethiopian side, the report said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that the Federal Government and allied regional State governments have committed and continue to commit the crimes against humanity of persecution on ethnic grounds and other inhumane acts”.

They were “intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health based on their ongoing denial and obstruction of humanitarian assistance to Tigray”, the report said.

The September 19 UN report also found reasonable grounds to believe that Tigrayan forces had committed war crimes, including large-scale killings of Amhara civilians, rape and sexual violence.

Read Ruadhán Jones’ full featured article on the crisis in Tigray here.