ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Turkey’s state-run aid agency TIKA has pledged to repair the iconic Al Nejashi Mosque in Ethiopia's northernmost region of Tigray, the agency announced on Wednesday.
The seventh-century Al Nejashi mosque, the first in Ethiopia, was reportedly built by the companions of the Prophet Muhammad after they were exiled from Mecca and migrated across the Red Sea.
Four years ago the mosque underwent a major restoration with the support of the Turkish Coordination and Cooperation Agency (TIKA). However, in recent armed conflict, it sustained considerable damage from mortar fire.
Tigray has been in the spotlight since last November, when the Ethiopian government launched a sweeping law enforcement operation in the region against the separatist Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
According to the UN, more than one million people have been displaced in Tigray due to the ongoing conflict, which has left more than 5 million people in urgent need of food aid.
"We have been in contact with the authorities in [Tigray's capital] Mekele," Cengiz Polat, TIKA coordinator in Ethiopia, told Anadolu Agency. “Let things settle down, and we will restore it.”
Last week, TIKA sent humanitarian aid to Tigray where, according to Polat, “civilians are suffering more than ever due to the conflict.”
“It is a humble donation, but we do it from the heart,” he said.
The donation includes tons of vital food staples, including lentils, rice, oil, and flour.
“The Turkish government will soon make another donation of non-food items,” he added.
In 2005, TIKA opened its first office in the Horn of Africa country.
“Just a month ago we provided help to the Legatafo refugee camp on the outskirts of (the capital) Addis Ababa, and we helped the cancer center of Ethiopia and also an orphanage,” he said.
“We just want to show that Ethiopia is very important for us in Africa, and we want to improve our relationship with Ethiopia and we want to help Ethiopia in these hard times."/aa