How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity (Psalm 133:1)
The executive committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, on 12-17 November 2021, joins in prayer and solidarity with the churches and people of Ethiopia as they face a grave and accelerating crisis in the life of their ancient and holy nation which holds such great significance for the continent of Africa and for global Christianity. The executive committee reiterates and underscores the concerns raised in its November 2020 statement regarding the political instrumentalization of ethnic differences, threatening the very fabric of the nation and the security of all its people.
Again, we urge all parties to the ongoing violent conflicts to remember the extremity of suffering inflicted on the people of Ethiopia by conflict and division in the past and now. And again, we appeal for a retreat from the precipice of a new catastrophe, and a return to the table of dialogue rather than the field of conflict, to cooperation rather than division.
The victims of this renewed conflict are and will be the people of Ethiopia. This violence can only harm them further. All parties must remember their responsibilities – moral and legal – for the protection of the people, for which they will be held accountable.
We call for an immediate bilateral ceasefire and cessation of armed hostilities, and urge all parties to engage in dialogue for resolving issues.
We urge all parties to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law, and ensure unhindered and unconditional humanitarian access to civilian populations in all affected areas.
We appeal for the international community’s non-partisan and unbiased support for dialogue and peace in Ethiopia, especially through the ongoing African Union process led by AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and for urgent international aid to meet the needs of the people and communities affected by the current conflict.
The violence and division has caused deep wounds in the Ethiopian nation. An equally deep process of national dialogue and reconciliation will be necessary to bring the nation back from the brink of catastrophe. In meeting this challenge, the churches and religious communities of Ethiopia must play a leadership role. We acknowledge and affirm the role the churches and the faith communities in Ethiopia have already played in advocating for dialogue rather than conflict, and their efforts to provide safe havens for internally displaced persons in their compounds, churches and school buildings all over the country, and their ongoing efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of victims to the conflict.
In this context, the executive committee of the World Council of Churches once again conveys the support and encouragement of the global ecumenical fellowship of churches to all the churches of Ethiopia to raise their prophetic voice for inclusive dialogue, peace, justice and unity against violence and hate speech, and welcomes the initiative for the establishment of a national council of churches in Ethiopia as an important instrument for ecumenical witness and cooperation against conflict, division and injustice.