REUTERS: Pope Francis today prayed for Ethiopia ahead of peace talks to be held in South Africa, following increased fighting in the Tigray region.
The Pope told those gathered in St Peter’s Square for his weekly Angelus prayer:
“I follow with concern about the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia. Once again, I heartily reiterate that violence does not resolve problems but only increases their tragic consequences. I appeal to political leaders to end the suffering of the defenceless people and find equitable solutions for lasting peace throughout the country.”
Peace talks on the war in Ethiopia are due to start on Monday (October 24) in South Africa, according to the African Union Commission, following earlier commitments by the Ethiopian government and Tigray forces to participate.
The Ethiopian government and its allies, which include Eritrea’s military, have been fighting Tigray forces in the north of the country on and off since late 2020. The conflict has killed thousands, displaced millions, and left hundreds of thousands on the brink of famine.
Both sides had committed to talks earlier this month, but they were delayed for logistical reasons.
Today the Pope said: “May the efforts of the parties for dialogue and the pursuit of the common good lead to a concrete path of reconciliation.”
He also encouraged followers to pray for Ethiopia, saying: “Please do not forget to pray for our Ethiopian brothers and sisters who are so severely affected and do not forget to offer them our solidarity and the humanitarian assistance they need.”
Statement of the AU Commission Chairperson @AUC_MoussaFaki on #Ethiopia : https://t.co/7sB9FEgEMD pic.twitter.com/pSWddSP05Q
— African Union (@_AfricanUnion) October 16, 2022
The Pope also prayed for “the unity and peace of Italy” as he welcomed Italy’s new government, a coalition led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.