The targeting of young people, indiscriminate killings and widespread sexual violence – including the rape of nuns – is part of a genocide against the Tigrayan ethnic group of northern Ethiopia, according to a source close to the Church.

The source, anonymous for security reasons, told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that Eritrean soldiers are continuing to slaughter civilians.

ACN’s source said:

Young people are killed, our ladies and women are abused with sexual harassment – that is a sign of genocide itself.”

The source went on to describe the spate of sexual abuse which Tigrayan women – including nuns – have been subjected to at the hands of troops from neighbouring Eritrea.

The source said: “Our sisters have been raped. Some of them we had to take to hospital, even nuns have been raped.”

Last November, fighting broke out in Tigray after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent federal troops, with the support of troops from Eritrea, to fight the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which he accused of holding illegitimate elections.

The source said: “The situation as you heard is very, very bad here… Nearly 90 percent of people in Tigray are displaced.”

He added: “This war has brought about a huge humanitarian crisis, manifested by overwhelming numbers of civilian killings, the displacement of millions, the destruction of economic and social foundations, psychological pain and panic…

In this regard, the most affected are pregnant mothers, children, disabled and elderly members of society.”

ACN’s help for Tigray has included emergency support for nuns and monks as well as mass stipends.