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Anglican Church urging aid to Ethiopia

by Hannah Tooley

The Christian charity, Us, is sending emergency funds to support Christians in the country.

It says since the beginning on a civil war in the country, more than 350,000 refugees fled last year alone.

The charity is reporting that fighting in the region has been intensifying and a further 150,000 refugees are arriving in Ethiopia, putting increased pressure on relief efforts.

Most of the refugees arrive with only what they are wearing or can carry, according to Us.

It is providing what food aid it can and churches have been set up in refugee camps to provide education and care. 

* More than around 1.6 million people have been internally displaced since civil war broke out in December 2013.

* The war is rooted in politics - the President and former Vice-President disagreed which lead to ethnic violence.

* In February 2015 peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, collapsed and fighting resumed in March.

The Rt Rev Dr Grant LeMarquand, Area Bishop of Ethiopia, said: "A new refugee camp has opened a few kilometres from Gambella town.

"Another is being established near the town of Matar, and another in the Asosa region near the permanent camp Sherkole (the new camp has been given the poignant name 'Sorry').

"The churches, however, are usually the first stop for the refugees.

"They often ask for food and shelter.

"As well as food aid, there are churches in the refugee camps providing literacy classes and other educational support. In this way, the churches function as community centres for many refugees.

"We have 15 mission centres in Gambella, each of which is a cluster of churches.

"Some of the churches are in established refugee camps; some are in villages and towns.

"We have 16 clergy and 90 lay readers in the area, so we are obtaining first-hand information about what is happening.

"The church has planned food distribution in the Akobo-Tiergol region (accessible only by boat) and in Matar, benefiting 500 families in total."

He added that: "New church buildings will benefit a further 4,000 refugees.

"Two new churches are planned for the Jewi and Sorry refugee camps, and repairs will be made to a church in Dima camp, which was badly damaged by termites."

Rt Rev Dr Grant LeMarquand said those working in the region are also seeking support from other Anglican agencies "so hopefully we will have enough to cover immediate needs for the next couple of months."

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