Three Killed in Attacks on Ethiopian Orthodox Church, According to Report

NAIROBI, KENYA — Three people have been killed Saturday in attacks on a church in southern Ethiopia, according to reports by a religious media outlet.

The violence erupted against a backdrop of tensions in the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church after rebel bishops created their own synod in Oromia, the country’s most populous region.

Abune Henok, Archbishop of Addis Ababa Diocese, described the incidents in the Oromia city of Shashamene as “shameful and heart-wrenching,” according to the Church-affiliated Tewahedo Media Center (TMC).

The TMC said two Orthodox Christian youths had been killed, and another four people injured, when Oromia special forces attacked the church in Shashamene, which lies about 250 kilometers (150 miles) south of Addis Ababa.

It later said there had been sniper fire on the church from nearby high-rise buildings that had killed a woman and injured others.

It was not possible to independently verify the reports.

Henok called on the authorities in Oromia, also the largest geographic region in Ethiopia, to stop the “persecution” of Orthodox Christians, according to the TMC.

A statement issued by the Holy Synod later urged clergy and the faithful to wear black in protest and called for peaceful demonstrations at churches at home and abroad on February 12.

The unity of the Ethiopian Church, one of the oldest in the world and which accounts for about 40 percent of the country’s 115 million population, is under threat after the move by the rebel clergy last month.

The Church, headed by Patriarch Abune Mathias for a decade, has declared the breakaway synod illegal and excommunicated the bishops involved.

It has also accused the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of interfering in its affairs and making comments that effectively recognized the “illegitimate group.”

Addressing cabinet members earlier in the week, Abiy — who is himself from the Oromo community — called for the rivals to engage in dialogue and said both sides had their “own truths.”

The breakaway bishops accuse the church of discrimination and linguistic and cultural hegemony, saying congregations in Oromia are not served in their native language, claims rejected by the patriarchate.

Orthodox leaders have long complained of religious persecution, including the burning of churches several years ago, and relations with the government have been tense in the past, including over the Tigray conflict.

The World Council of Churches issued a statement Friday voicing “deep concern” about the developments in the Ethiopian institution.

“We call upon all political leaders in Ethiopia to support the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in its efforts to achieve unity and peace among its members,” WCC general secretary Jerry Pillay said.

Source: Voice of America

Premier Abiy Bids Farewell to Outgoing President, Deputy President of Federal Supreme Court

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed bid farewell to the outgoing President and Deputy President of the Federal Supreme Court for their service to the nation.

It is to be recalled that former Federal Supreme Court President Meaza Ashenafi and Deputy President Solomon Areda resigned from their post.

Tedros Miheret and Abeba Embiale have been appointed as a new President and deputy president of the Federal Supreme Court respectively.

Accordingly, Prime Minister Abiy thanked today the former officials at a program hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister.

“Ethiopia thanks the outgoing President and Deputy President of the Federal Supreme Court for their service to the nation. I wish them well in the path ahead,” Abiy twitted.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Premier Abiy Bids Farewell to Outgoing President, Deputy President of Federal Supreme Court

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed bid farewell to the outgoing President and Deputy President of the Federal Supreme Court for their service to the nation.

It is to be recalled that former Federal Supreme Court President Meaza Ashenafi and Deputy President Solomon Areda resigned from their post.

Tedros Miheret and Abeba Embiale have been appointed as a new President and deputy president of the Federal Supreme Court respectively.

Accordingly, Prime Minister Abiy thanked today the former officials at a program hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister.

“Ethiopia thanks the outgoing President and Deputy President of the Federal Supreme Court for their service to the nation. I wish them well in the path ahead,” Abiy twitted.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Head of Ethiopia Supreme Court resigns

The head of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court, Meaza Ashenafi, and her deputy, Solomon Areda, have resigned.

According to media report, the two did not give any reason for their resignation.

Judge Meaza, was appointed Supreme Court president in 2018 by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s she was a judge in Ethiopia’s high court. Later, she founded the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association to help women in need of legal advice.

She has been replaced as Supreme Court president by Tewodros Mihret, a legal academic, whose appointment was approved by the country’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

New Ambassadors Take Oath Before President

The ambassadors appointed recently by President Sahle-Work Zewde took an oath before the President today pledging to safeguard their country’s interests and carry out their duties at the utmost of their abilities.

Delivering remarks at the ceremony, President Sahle-Work congratulated the ambassadors for getting the honor of representing their country further stressing her hope that they would fulfill their duties diligently.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, for his part expressed confidence that the ambassadors will advance Ethiopia’s interests in bilateral and multilateral fora.

He said the ambassadors are expected to expand Ethiopia’s relations with other countries in trade, investment, tourism and diaspora engagement building upon encouraging opportunities at home.

President of the Federal Supreme Court, Ms. Meaza Ashenafi and senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the swearing-in ceremony.

Source: Ethiopian Embassy UK

NZ aid worker remains missing in Ukraine: the tragedy of people motivated to help in war zones becoming victims themselves

The humanitarian aid worker Andrew Bagshaw, who has dual New Zealand and British citizenship, has been missing in Ukraine for more than ten days.

Bagshaw and his British colleague Christopher Parry worked as part of a team of Ukrainian and international volunteers delivering aid and carrying out evacuations of civilians, often under fire from Russian forces. They have not been seen since January 6, when they left the city of Kramatorsk for Soledar, in eastern Ukraine, which has since been claimed by the Russian mercenary company Wagner.

Humanitarian volunteers often represent the best of us. They are driven to put themselves at personal risk with little financial reward to reduce human suffering and the impacts of conflicts. Their ethical justifications for entering dangerous locations, despite clear warnings from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to travel to Ukraine, are often exemplary.

But aid workers are at high risk. During the past two decades, intentional attacks on aid or humanitarian workers have become a disturbing trend, often perpetrated to drive outside influences away from war zones and fully isolate populations.

It is a war crime to intentionally attack aid workers. Some, such as personnel working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations, have considerably more rights than others.

Despite this division, all aid workers are covered by basic rules. The problem is that international humanitarian law is not based on the ethics of why someone is in a war zone. This is especially the case if they are foreigners.

Rights of foreigners who enter war zones

There are three main groups of foreigners who voluntarily go into war zones.

Some people volunteer to fight in foreign wars and are paid more than local fighters. If captured and deemed mercenaries, these people have no rights. They can be executed.

The second group are “aliens”, inadvertently caught up in a conflict in a country that is not theirs. For these people, if captured and non-combatants, they have a prima-facie right to leave the country. However, this is not an absolute right – they can still be held if their departure is contrary to the national interests of the state that captured them.

Aid workers represent the third group, and they are at increasing risk. Capturing aid workers for hostage and propaganda purposes is a repugnant trend. In recent conflicts, we’ve also seen a rise in the number of victims of collateral violence – their deaths were not intended but a result of indiscriminate force now commonly used in war zones.

More often that not, attacks on aid workers are a combination of intentional and unintentional actions. Globally, at least 460 aid workers were victims of major attacks in 2021: 140 were were killed, 203 wounded and 117 kidnapped.

Most of these attacks happened in countries such as South Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria and Ethiopia. But other conflict zones are also contributing to the figures, with growing numbers of deaths, kidnappings and wounding of aid workers recorded in Ukraine in 2022.

International humanitarian law is clear that if a country where a war is happening consents to the presence of aid workers and they are impartial in their work, they “shall be respected and protected”.

Although Russia has withdrawn its consent to the specific convention that contains this rule, Ukraine is a signatory. The obvious problem is that Russia now considers this annexed territory to be Russian, not Ukrainian.

Irrespective of debates about ownership and consent, Russia is still bound by other rules. Russia, like Ukraine, is a party to the Hostages Convention, which prohibits and criminalises the taking of hostages, for whatever justification.

Russia is also bound by the Security Council resolution, in which it strongly condemned all forms of violence against humanitarian workers. The council, including Russia, then urged states to ensure crimes against such personnel do not go unpunished.

Between theory and practice on the battlefield

Despite all of these rules and obligations, there is a large gap between the theory of restraint and the practices developing in Ukraine.

It is possible that Bagshaw and other humanitarian workers have been directly caught up in the violence in Ukraine. To be operating in a war zone, which involves the indiscriminate use of force, Somme-like conditions, the possibility of war crimes and the arrival of thousands of mercenaries who often pay scant regard to rules, is extremely risky.

It is also possible they have been taken for bargaining purposes. A practice is developing in Ukraine in which combatants and non-combatants, including foreigners, are taken and traded by the belligerents. These exchanges also include the bodies of the dead.

Whichever scenario applies, this is a tragedy. We are at a point where individuals with the highest ethical motivations to provide impartial humanitarian assistance have themselves become victims: collateral in a war being conducted without honour.

Source: The Conversation Media Group Ltd

Japan provides US$130 million to support vulnerable people amid global hunger crisis

YOKOHAMA – The United Nations World Food Programme has welcomed a contribution of around US$130 million from the Government of Japan to support vulnerable people in 37 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa amid the deepening global hunger crisis.

Over US$19.1 million will be allocated to provide emergency food assistance in Ukraine, where the war that erupted in February last year continues to displace people, damage infrastructure, disrupt supply chains, and hold back the country’s economy.

In Afghanistan, a contribution of US$12.4 million will be used to provide emergency food and nutrition assistance to acutely food insecure people facing a severe economic crisis compounded by earthquakes, droughts, and other climate shocks.

By providing over US$13.9 million to Myanmar, Japan is supporting WFP to respond to increasing humanitarian needs across the country affected by the political and economic crisis.

Among the Horn of Africa countries, some US$5 million goes to Somalia for emergency food assistance in schools amid the ongoing drought crisis while USD$3.9 million will be allocated to Ethiopia for life-saving nutritional treatment for vulnerable children as well as pregnant and breast-feeding women affected by the recent conflict in the north.

A further grant of US$6.6 million will be used to support vulnerable people in Yemen, a country ravaged by prolonged conflict and an economic crisis that lifted food prices and weighed on food security.

“The Japanese support comes at a critical time when needs are skyrocketing amid a food crisis of unprecedented proportions,” said Naoe Yakiya, Director of the WFP Japan Relations Office. “We are grateful for this generous contribution, which will enable us to save and change the lives of the most vulnerable people who are pushed to the brink.”

Japan has consistently been one of WFP’s top donors. The countries and regions benefitting from this year’s US$130 million supplementary funding are: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Jordan, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Gambia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Source: World Food Programme