By Catholic News Service
NAIROBI, Kenya – Ethiopian government forces raided a centre run by the Salesians of Don Bosco in Addis Ababa November 5 and arrested 17 people, including priests, religious brothers and employees.
Most were from the Ethiopian region of Tigray and were taken to an unidentified destination.
“All of them are still in prison. They are still being kept in an unknown prison. The provincial superior is among them,” said a source who could not be named for safety reasons.
“We continue to pray for peace. The situation is very delicate.”
One Twitter post said the priests and others were accused of sending money to Tigray. Relief aid to the region has been blocked and people are said to be starving.
The most recent conflict began in November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, launched an attack on the administration of the semi-autonomous region. He accused the regional administration of attacking a national army base in the Tigray capital, Mekele.
Since then, thousands have died and more than one million people have been displaced as the conflict spread to other regions of the country.
Rebels of the Tigray Defense Forces have signed an agreement with another eight groups and are advancing on the capital. The prime minister declared a six-month state of emergency and urged residents of Addis Ababa to arm themselves to protect neighbourhoods.
The Salesians, who began working in Ethiopia in 1975, have an established presence in Tigray. The order’s website says 100 members of the order live in about 14 houses spread across Ethiopia, where they run schools and vocational training centres and homes for street children.
The Pope expressed concern over the increasing violence in the country on November 8 while addressing pilgrims at St Peter’s Square.
“I invite everyone to pray for these people so sorely tried and I renew my appeal that fraternal harmony and the peaceful path of dialogue may prevail,” the Pope said.