Hundreds lie dead in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region according to a secret inside account, which described priests beaten up, churches ransacked, and “rampant” hunger and fear gripping the populace who have no medicine left.

Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the priest, unnamed for security reasons, described the effects of a conflict ongoing since November 2020 between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

He said: “[There is] still devastating war going on in almost the whole of the Tigray region.”

He added: “I don’t have the words to describe their suffering – there is great despair and the people are traumatised.”

The result of the conflict is that “there is rampant hunger and fear”, according to ACN’s source.

He said: “There are no official public services, not enough food, no medication, no security and trust.”

He went on to add: “Hundreds were killed.”

Last November, fighting broke out in Tigray after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent federal troops, supported by militia and army from Amhara, and troops from Eritrea, to fight the TPLF, which he accused of holding illegitimate elections.

The source insisted that “the situation is worsening by the moment”.

Describing how children and orphans have suffered, he said: “The people are at the end of their strength. [Mothers] come to ask help because they have lost their children and don’t know where they are.”

According to ACN’s source, there has been a lot of violence against priests and Sisters, and in his own area “three parish priests have been threatened and beaten” and that all the property of the parishes has been “completely cleaned out by the soldiers.”

Yet, he said: “The Church has never stopped doing her job… tending her sheep with due care for her people.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asserted in March that “ethnic cleansing” has taken place in western Tigray, with reports circulating from Amnesty International and others that Eritrean troops committed massacres in the region.

ACN’s source was grateful for the support the charity has sent to the Tigray region, saying: “Please continue to pray for us and support us. We need your help, both material and spiritual… Many thanks for your solidary and sincere concern during these dramatic times.”