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More than 75,000 Ethiopians migrate annually to Libya

Protesters hold a banner showing victims Eyasu Yikunoamlak, left, and Balcha Belete, right, at a government-supported gathering to protest the recent killing of 28 Ethiopian Christians in Libya by the Islamic State extremist group, at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, April 22, 2015. (Credit: Associated Press)

"In 2011, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimated that more than 75,000 citizens migrate annually to Libya, most with the hope of making it to Europe. Italy is the leading Mediterranean nation of reception, with about 10,000 Christian migrants from Ethiopia, according to the Pew Research Center. Many get stranded; others die trying"

Why Christians Are Fleeing One of Africa's Oldest and Largest Christian Homelands 

Beyond the search for a better life, evangelicals and Orthodox in Ethiopia increasingly share even more.

By Jayson Casper in Cairo/ June 18, 2015

April was a terrible month for Ethiopian migrants. Tescma Marcus and his brother Alex were burned alive during xenophobic attacks in South Africa. One week later, Eyasu Yekuno-Amlak and his brother Balcha were dramatically executed in Libya by ISIS, along with 26 others.

One reason Ethiopians were involved in high-profile tragedies at opposite ends of the continent: Their nation is the second-most populous in Africa as well as the second-poorest in the world (87 percent of Ethiopia's 94 million people are impoverished).

Roughly two-thirds of Ethiopians are Christians. The majority of these belong to the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church; the rest primarily to Protestant denominations such as the Ethiopian
Evangelical Church Makane Yesus (which recently broke ties with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over theological concerns).

The Orthodox and Protestants have long had in common the search for a better life. Increasingly, they share even more.

Veteran SIM missionary Howard Brant celebrates that “the two groups are coming closer and closer together” in Ethiopia, which he calls “one of the great success stories of evangelical Christianity.”

The martyred migrants in Libya, he said, likely belonged to the Orthodox church. “But if they were strong enough believers to refuse to deny Jesus on pain of death,” he said, “then God knows their hearts.”

The Tewahedo church—like its Orthodox sister church in Egypt—celebrates its history of martyrdom. It claims descent from the Ethiopian eunuch converted by Philip in Acts 8, and dates formally to the preaching of Frumentius in the early fourth century and the acceptance of Christianity in A.D. 330.

The name means "unified" in Ge’ez, the ancient and still liturgical language of Ethiopia. It refers to Christ’s one nature, both human and divine. In A.D. 451, the Oriental Orthodox churches rejected the Council of Chalcedon’s pronouncement of his two natures.

But despite joint confession of the A.D. 325 Nicene Creed, relations with Ethiopian evangelical groups have traditionally been poor. The Orthodox hold to an 81-book canon of Scripture, engage in deep veneration of Mary, and believe the Ark of the Covenant is housed in their St. Mary’s of Zion Church, said to be brought in the 10th century B.C. and kept in secret.

Some evangelicals accept the ark legend as well, said Ralph Lee, an expert in Ge’ez and Ethiopic theology who has partnered extensively with the Orthodox. Despite these barriers, he believes there is much room for cooperation.

“The gospels always come first and all is to be interpreted in their light,” he said. “There are many within the church who are seeking to help the laity develop a better understanding of their faith and its meaning.”

Unfortunately, he says, there are others who do not fully realize the importance. The Bible is widely available in Amharic, the national language, and the Bible Society in Ethiopia works with all denominations. But some Orthodox bishops oppose a vernacular liturgy, and priests are generally not given an academic education in the Scriptures.

One bishop, however, has authorized a Bible translation in the local language of the heavily Orthodox region of Tigray, along the northern border with Eritrea.

The Orthodox church’s late leader, Patriarch Abune Paulos, was hailed by Lee and many Ethiopians as a champion of ecumenism, serving as a president of the World Council of Churches until his death in 2012.

Over the last decade, the patriarch allowed an SIM missionary to teach an AIDS prevention course in the Orthodox church's Holy Trinity Theological College. Instructing priests and monks, they partnered to launch an awareness campaign at a time many Ethiopians were still wary of the afflicted and evangelicals alike.

The pioneering collaboration led to Lee and other foreigners being invited into Orthodox seminaries, where they have taught for several years. But residual distrust among the non-academic wing of the church has at least temporarily restricted further cooperation.

“Some evangelicals believe the Orthodox are not fully Christian,” said Lee, “and some in the Orthodox church have resisted—rooted in a deep-seated suspicion of foreigners.”

Ethiopia takes pride as an African nation that did not fall to colonialists, despite the best efforts of Italy. But World War II ended its ambitions, after which Emperor Haile Selassie allowed foreign missions to work among Ethiopian animists for the medical and educational benefits derived in the less developed—and non-Orthodox—southern regions of the nation.

After the Marxist revolution of 1974 and expulsion of the foreign missionaries, Ethiopian churches witnessed explosive growth. Today, per the most recent census, nearly a fifth of the population is evangelical (19%, compared to 44% Orthodox).

The constitution guarantees religious freedom, but non-Orthodox must register with the government. There is a sense the “Pente,” so called for the charismatic leanings of these churches, are still foreign.

But like the Orthodox, Muslims are recognized as an indigenous community. Woyita Olla, deputy general secretary of the evangelical Kale Heywet (“Word of Life”) Church (which evolved from SIM work), says relations with Muslims are good.

“The incident in Libya has no religious basis,” he said. “It is a brutal, inhuman act that has no support among Muslims or Christians. We are all condemning it.”

Olla works closely with Muslims on the national interreligious council of Ethiopia, even as he cherishes the right of each community to evangelize the other. Muslims compose about a third of the population, and are said to have arrived in the seventh century when the Christian king of then-Abyssinia welcomed the persecuted followers of Muhammad.

Following the Orthodox lead, Kale Heywet announced a week of prayer and fasting following the killings in Libya. Olla agrees interdenominational ties are strengthening, as the nation is coming together.

But according to one Ethiopian Christian medical worker who preferred not to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation, Ethiopia is coming together in frustration.

“Children and the elderly are physically sick from what they have seen from ISIS,” he said. “But there is also anger at the government for not controlling immigration and creating more job opportunities.”

Tens of thousands of Ethiopians joined a government-sponsored rally three days after the killings. By the end, riot police had to subdue parts of the crowd.

“We may have some weakness in handling domestic issues,” said Girma Bekele, an Ethiopian adjunct professor of global missions and development studies at Wycliffe College in Toronto, Canada. “But to any foreign aggression the country is always strong and united, irrespective of ethnic or religious identities.”

Bekele was saved during the period of Marxist oppression and joined Kale Heywet. He hopes that improving religious relations will push all Ethiopian churches toward justice and concern for the poor.

And he has circulated a pastoral letter, acknowledged by Brant and Ethiopian leaders back home, hoping to contribute.

“The massive exodus from the country by any means and at any cost speaks strongly about the need to struggle against the crisis of poverty,” he wrote. “The plight of the poor, the great majority, is and must be at the heart of national discourse.”

In 2011, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimated that more than 75,000 citizens migrate annually to Libya, most with the hope of making it to Europe. Italy is the leading Mediterranean nation of reception, with about 10,000 Christian migrants from Ethiopia, according to the Pew Research Center. Many get stranded; others die trying.

The nation’s Ministry of Justice announced it is drafting a new law to combat human trafficking, and is working to repatriate Ethiopians in Libya.

Bekele calls for more, including the rescue and economic reintegration of migrant Ethiopians threatened also in Yemen and the Sinai. But while he laments the state of his country, he looks to his once and future church in hope.

“I am optimistic this national grief will usher in a new paradigm for the church in Ethiopia,” he said, “as leaders work tirelessly to transform it into missional dialogue.

“We have endured challenge from within and without, and must stand in prayer as a resilient Christian nation, worthy of its 1700-year heritage.” 
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More than 75,000 Ethiopians migrate annually to Libya Reviewed by Admin on 11:43 AM Rating: 5


  1. Trying to put Ethiopian face for every political economical, and social problem Eritrea faces to shift the spot light from crisis Eritrea facing. For example, Eritrea is oppressing its people just because Ethiopia is not leaving Badme. Eritrea is taking out its frustration of Ethiopia over its citizen. In the last week Ethiopia radio and television had only one news about Eritrea. Eritrea, however every single day post news about Ethiopia in every websites. I have been wondering recently how that is going to translate to solve Eritrea's problem. The only explanation is Eritrea can not be noticed or survive without Ethiopia being on Eritrea's life side show. Almost 24 years gone but Eritrea is still in the shadow of Ethiopia. If there is a story to be told in east Africa about two countries relationship this would be a fascinating story to tell, by asking the question why is Eritrea still shadow Ethiopia? Fascinating!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. i don't like to argue with crazy liar Erty. but what wonders me is if 75 000 Ethiopians migrate to libya, almost all refugees crossing mediteranian are Ethiopians pretending Eritrean.
    When I saw the statics of UNHCR there is no Ethiopian migrant entering Europe.
    Amazing, no?

  3. Just wondering where will you be hiding wenn TPLF expired. They will pay the price for their crime against ethiopians and eritreans. You will hear it sooner than you think the dram.
    B eritrawi ina b'e nitsuhan etiopiawian dem kelid time will come i promise to you.

  4. When someone tells you you have a snot in your face, your answer should be thank you and remove it. However, when the regime is told that Eritreans in Eritrea are suffering, oppressed, jobless, hopeless, need room to breeze, they are suffocated, they are in labor camps for the most of their adult and productive life...etc, the regime's response is you have these many homeless too and these many people jobless too, these many single mothers too..bla...bla..
    You need to listen, they are telling you the real problem you have in your hand, find a solution before it is toooo late.

  5. Here you gain; shadowing Ethiopia, Yes all refugees from Africa are from Ethiopia, if that helps to lessen Eritrea's pain. Instead of saying refugees are from Ethiopia or other countries, why don’t you ask the right question and find the right solution if Eritreans
    are leaving Eritrea. Is there anyone leaving Eritrea, how many for what reason, is there a solution to this and so on. Trying to be an Ethiopian enemy of shadowing Ethiopia will never solve Eritrea’s social and economic crisis. It is the wrong policy that will bury Eritrea forever, even from a call from Jesus would not bring a resurrection for Eritrea. It is a wrong policy for Eritrea to be an enemy of Ethiopia or shadowing of Ethiopia for its failure in social and economic problem, not sustainable. This is the biggest mistake Eritrea is making. I remember one time Isaias saying that he underestimated Ethiopia’s influence, now more like so.

  6. Called "The blame game, undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia syndrome,

  7. You can't even if you want, as you are antagonizing the reality. Better to keep quite and receive your scripts from PFDJ . Character Assassination instead of talking about the issues at hand.

  8. while you writing fake history against Ethiopia you should know always crashing with concrete wall, but you couldn't get lesson from the past. first of all from the 28 executed only 8 Ethiopians but the remain all are Eritreans. second the first Ethiopian Christianity is in 70th A D. and the,
    third the report is wrong as usual, before Gadaffi /2011 there is no that much possible rout from Libya to Italy, as the world knows Eritreans was the first discoverer rout of Libya and Sina'i, So pls don't defile our countries history as your artificial history. like you're colonized by African country/Ethiopia/, you offspring is from Yemeni./Arab not habesha/, you condemn Ethiopia but Italy or Turky, while your citizens still kidnaped in Sudan or Libya you talking about past of Ethiopia. while you don't have election or religion freedom you want to criticized about Ethiopia. your people is hungry and escape the country you supporting financial and weapon to Ethiopian oppositions for nothing, while you drown everyday you talking about the proud GVT of Ethiopia which is bring his citizens from the trouble are. while Eritreans are deny their identity for advantage to come to Ethiopia. and you insult FM Tedros even he bring them from Soudi as an Ethiopians.... I will say again. you always crashing with concrete wall when you write against Ethiopia,

  9. "The days of TPLF is numbering" slogan is 24 years old.... The matter of Eritrea is not only the matter TPLF. all Ethiopians /Medrek nor KInijit/ whoever in power is worst for you if you use your brain . particularly all Tigreans are TPLF's include Arena....... if you are not change your attitude....

  10. Traitors Acting like opositionJune 19, 2015 at 1:36 AM

    Be ewnetu Weyane mad dog....
    Does Jayson Casper Sound like Eritrean Name?? This Report is the truth and you know it. As a human beeing it should make you sad , No matter if they are ethiopians or Eritrean who suffer , but we know you Weyane Satan, you are without Moral

  11. Because Identity theft is crime by International law and Ethiopians are perfecting themselves at sealing Eritrean Identity. We are talking about Thieves like you who do not have the norm of behaving . You Ethiopians are the most thieves on earth. Stealing Eritrean Identity. That is the main thing. You cannot tell Eritreans to do their affairs. Eritreans are the only people who run their country independely, build their country with our sweats and hard work, we do not beg, we do not steal any nationality Identity or land. We are talking about Ethiopians who are thieves in land grabbing, war mongers, who never rested to fight to occupy and take land that is not theirs. nSo all is about Ethiopia as a rogue, troublemaker country. Do you understand ?

  12. Eritrea is Eritrea, do not worry. The only thing is you are write , there is no Ethiopian that is better than each other. They are all war mongers, all betrayed Eritreans, all want to grab land that does not belong to them, They are trouble makers they do not like peace with their neighbours, They are war war and war singers. Are you telling me Ethiopians who ever comes to power is all about war not peace, about destruction and not development. That is right and that is what we have been saying all through . That is what we are against you all who ever is coming to power and pursue the same evil that woyane doing, we will stand against them . Eritrea is a peace flu country, it is not asking anything that does not belong to us by heritage, by history, by law. Understand?? You are confirming to me what I know .

  13. The smoke coming out of your bogus pride is so dark that it has totally blocked your view, shut down your brain's basic functions, and disqualifies you to be a part of the human race. So sad to see when so many brains are wasted in such primitive thinking of Eriteans are the only perfect, Germans are the only pure, Ethiopians are the only this and that on planet earth.

  14. I remembered the subject of Mathematics when I was in high school , which is about the science of SET. if A is a sub set of B and B is a sub set of C, then A is the sub set of C.
    let me come to our two nations reality that is
    All etinic of Eritrean who live in Eritrea also live in Ethiopia but All Ethinic of Ethiopia who live in Ethiopa doesn't live in Eritrea. Therefor All Eritrean can be Ethiopian but Not All Ethiopian can be Eritrea.

  15. We do not need your crocodile tears !
    I know and you know the cause of all the suffering of both people.

  16. This is a well calcullated tactics of the white power together with their slaves inside Addis. Hailemariam told you wide and clear on his interview "You do not have any evidence that Ethiopians are refugees, Im glad that you mentioned that, give me a single name an Ethiopian refugee...." said HM without any shame LOL LOL on the other hand Desalegn been crying river when they got slaughtered as Fasika sheep in Libya. If 500,000 of Ethiopians desolve in the sea what is for HM? It is a spoonful from the ocean ! but a spice on his twisted propaganda when crying river to his masters.

  17. Eritreanism is not fake amhara (like you guys die to buy) LOL LOL.... kind of relatioship. Eritreanism is PURE and result of dedication, courage and hardship !

  18. Wow KirKir you don't know about amhara, All ethinics live in Eritrea and Ethiopia in one or other way drive their blood from Amhara Ethinic. For instance ur master Isayas Afewerk is relative with Gondar. If you ask ur mother and father, am sure they will tell you their relatives come from Amhara blood.

  19. Enjoy the song

  20. Ya mekhnut !
    Eritrean do not try to play Amhara. The Son of Barka with his sword cut your throat if you ever try one more time, we will destroy the whole agameland. If you learn from history Keren is where the world war II has ended. Woyane Afn!

  21. Take this for your memories

    We will NEVER Forget them !

    Bless their soul

    Your ACID words will destroy you soon !
    Stay tunned.

  22. አይደለም ሰዉ ውሻውም ከኤርትራ ወደ ኢትዮጲ ያይሰደዳል
    ቦቢ ይሉታል የአካባቢው ሰዎች ከኤርትራ ወታደር ምሽጐች አምልጦ ከመጣ 2 አመት ይሆነዋል
    ሁሌ ሲጮህ ፊቱን ወደ ኤርትራ አዙሮ ነዉ ይላሉ የአካባቢ ነዋሪዎች
    this story come from zalambesa border

  23. hey which acid words i am just write the fact

  24. Ayda, you seem to have forgotten the "Eritrean Coffee" that was being exported by Eritrea in the mid-90's. Who's the criminal and thief, really? Furthermore, why, would anyone, in Hades' Hot HELL want to be an Eritrean?!? It is an identity of embarrasement and humilation.

  25. Eritrea yet to establish its own identity. Whatever identity there is in Eritrea, Eritrea citizens are running away from it. what every you are saying here is as bogus as it can be. If Ethiopian's are hiding behind Eritrea's problem to be accepted as a refugee, that number is very marginal. The question to ask is, are Eritreans leaving the country, why, and what should be done to stop it. These are the questions need to be answered. It does not help looking for an excuse for a problem but finding solution will do. If you can stop or reduce Eritreans leaving the country all other problems become unimportant.

  26. 80% Eritrean's are Ethiopian let alone what belongs in Eritrea. hamasains are from gonder. akulguzai are agame,and syrie are shire and Adwa. These are 85% Eritrean people who track back their origin to Ethiopia. That is why people say Eritrea separation from Ethiopia is motivated only by politics, if you factor in all other social and geographical factors Eritrea's separation has no merits. Eritrea will struggle for a long time as country because Eritrea can be seperted based on politics from Ethiopia but all other factors keep Eritrea to be part of Ethiopia. language, food, religion , gene music, clothing, and so on are the same in both countries. It is the choice of very few Eritrean politician Eritrea to be independent country but all other measure indicated the other way.

  27. 85% ? you do not know the people of Eritrea Erty. Kerenaayt is watching your steps. Just have a courage and make a move.



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