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Anglican human shields in Ethiopian conflict

Posted on: February 3, 2016 2:32 PM
St Luke's is one of a number of Anglican churches in the Gambella region of Ethiopia
Photo Credit: Diocese of Egypt
Related Categories: conflict, Ethiopia, Middle East, prayer

[ACNS] Anglicans in Ethiopia are asking for prayer following an increase in tribal tensions between the Nuer and Anyuak ethnic groups. Local Anglicans have acted as human shields by escorting students from one tribe through the territory of the other, with the support of the security services.

The Diocese of Egypt with the North of Africa and the Horn of Africa say that lives have been lost in recent days and that the situation continues to be tense; but they say the government remains in control.

“Tribal tension has flared up . . . after a pregnant woman from one tribe, who was beaten by thugs from another tribe, died last night,” the diocese said on its website. “A bomb exploded after security personal discovered it being carried by a student at a local College. As far as we know, no one was injured in that attack, but subsequent clashes have definitely resulted in loss of life.”

The diocese stresses that it is “not sure about all the facts” and that they “have heard many stories from both sides of the conflict,” adding: “This much we do know – there are many who are mourning today.”

The Sudan Tribune newspaper reports that dozens of people have been killed on both sides and many more wounded in the dispute between the Nuer and Anyuak ethnic groups. The newspaper says that the two groups have been living peacefully for many years; and that the cause of the current tensions remains unclear.

In their request for prayer, the diocese says that: “We had to escort our students from one tribe through the other tribe’s territory together with members of the local security forces travelling behind our vehicle. They are all safe.

“Pray that this action will not be misinterpreted as taking sides.”

The diocese is asking people to “pray against any desire for retaliation from both sides” and say that, at present, “all is quiet and everything appears to be under control.”