NAIROBI, Kenya - Churches in eastern and southern Africa are appealing for humanitarian aid in the region, as 36 million people grapple with the worst drought in decades.

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As the worst Ethiopian drought in 60 years threatens as many as 20 million people living in more than half of Africa’s second largest country, Catholic aid agencies in the desperate nation are asking for help as the crisis continues into 2016.

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ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - Ethiopia is not like the rest of Africa. Just ask an Ethiopian.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - The Catholic Church is more African than most Canadians realize. We pay no attention to the early African popes — Gelasius I (492 to 496), Miltiades (311 to 314) and Victor I (189 to 199). We gloss over the African origins of some of the most significant writers and thinkers of early Christianity, including the evangelist Mark, author of the oldest Gospel in the canon, and theologians Tertullian, Origen and St. Augustine of Hippo.

JIJIGA, ETHIOPIA - At the end of June the Famine Early Warning Systems Network of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization issued a warning about dry conditions in Ethiopia, Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa. On July 5 the UN called it “the worst drought in 60 years” in the Horn of Africa, with Ethiopia and Somalia worst hit.

JIJIGA, ETHIOPIA - Nasri Yaseen Gourate is a young Somali man, husband and father, a hard worker with a voice among the men of his clan. But the most remarkable thing about Nasreen is that he is a Somali man with no cattle, no camels, no goats, no sheep. He sold them all.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - The Jesuit Refugee Service in Africa had its baptism of fire in Ethiopia trying to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of starving Ethiopians. Almost as soon as the JRS was founded in Ethiopia, the 1984 famine galvanized world attention, inspired the Band Aid mega-concerts and put the Jesuits to work. The Jesuit who led the JRS in Ethiopia, who tangled with communist government ministers, found 10-tonne trucks to deliver food, put medical care in place, is Canadian.

DOLLO ADO, ETHIOPIA - Fifty-one year old Somali refugee Abdi Mahdi is one of about 25 students taking an English class offered by the Jesuit Refugee Service in the Kobe refugee camp, about three kilometres from the border between Ethiopia and Somalia.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - One of the leading voices among Africa’s bishops predicts a new flexibility in Catholic teaching at this October’s Synod on the Family, allowing bishops and bishops’ conferences in different parts of the world to adapt Church teaching on the family to the culture, economic situation and political landscape in their part of the world.

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TORONTO - Close to 1,000 Ethiopian immigrants — a mix of Orthodox, Protestant and Muslim — gathered in the late afternoon and evening of April 28 in Dundas Square to mourn together the death of two Ethiopian migrant workers murdered April 19 in Libya by Islamic State militants.

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Ethiopia's Catholic bishops condemned "in unambiguous terms" the execution of 30 Ethiopian Christian migrants in Libya.

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JUBA, South Sudan - Church leaders in South Sudan are trying to breathe new life into their country's stalled peace talks.

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Climate change-induced drought that has afflicted the Horn of Africa presents the opportunity for the Catholic Church in Ethiopia to work more closely with the government to address food shortages and development concerns, said an official of the country's bishops' conference.

Recalling when Ethiopian regimes in the 1970s and 1980s either did not have the capacity or the political will to face a series of famines, Father Hailegebriel Meleku, deputy secretary general of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, said the country is now better poised to address its humanitarian problems, in part because church bodies have been mobilized during recent crises.

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