The current, troubling situation in Ethiopia is escalating. Much of the conflict is centred around the Tigray region, where Mary’s Meals has been working for several years with Daughters of Charity to provide meals for vulnerable children in school (and, more recently, at home while schools were closed because of the pandemic).

As a result of the fighting and unrest, a six-month state of emergency has been declared and electricity, internet and phone services have been shut down in the region. For this reason, it is proving difficult to keep in touch with our colleagues on the ground.

We are monitoring the situation and we will keep our friends and supporters informed about the feeding program and the potential to provide additional assistance to communities in Tigray and surrounding areas as soon as we have an update.

The situation in Tigray was already challenging and the Mary’s Meals feeding program has been providing a lifeline for struggling families. When Covid-19 closed the schools, we worked with our partner to ensure children could still be fed at a time when they were more vulnerable than ever.

Sister Medhin, the Daughters of Charity co-ordinator for the Tigray region, sent this message for supporters in the summer: “The price of staple food and everything has significantly increased due to inflation, disruption of supplies and measures to restrict movement in response to Covid-19. This has led to a decline in food intake and nutrition, high levels of under-nutrition among children in many families. School closures and restrictions on movement has caused the disruption of children’s routines and social support while also placing new stress on parents and caregivers who may have to find new childcare options or sacrifice work.

“Needless to say, the distribution of the food and the awareness program on pandemic prevention measures to the families of the school children together with basic sanitary items has significantly contributed to the effort of preventing the pandemic and providing care for the targeted school children. This is only possible because of the very generous and kind donations we are seeing from Mary’s Meals and everyone who contributes their acts of charity and love.”

Now, communities in the region face even worse threats than those posed by the global pandemic. Our thoughts and prayers are with the children and communities we serve in Ethiopia, our friends and partners, and all those affected by the ongoing conflict.