(Reuters)Tens of thousands of visitors from around Ethiopia and abroad usually come to Lalibela, home to a UNESCO World Heritage site of 12th and 13th century monolithic churches, to celebrate and witness the most important holiday in the Orthodox calendar.
But they were missing this year. Even many local worshippers stayed home, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and of a war in the Tigray region, further north, that broke out in November. The government declared victory at the end of that month, but since then there has been some low-level fighting in parts of that region, which borders Amhara where Lalibela is.
The lack of tourists has been hard on Lalibela. The town, with a population of 20,000, has become a star attraction for the foreign visitors to Ethiopia whose numbers have steadily grown over the past decade.CONTINUE READING