• Over 4.89 million children required humanitarian assistance in the year 2019. Displacements due to inter-ethnic conflicts, food insecurity triggered by natural and man-made crises, and disease outbreaks drove humanitarian needs.
• UNICEF supported over 1.41 million children with WASH Non-Food-Items (NFIs); 731,044 children were vaccinated against measles (of which 11,044 were newly arrived refugee children); 315,467 children were treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), including 4,017 refugee children; 263,894 children including 134,586 girls were given access to education; 99,681 children were provided with psychosocial support and 117,164 women and children received information on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) - how it can be prevented and how survivors can access support and services.
• UNICEF’s programme implementation was affected by restricted access to communities due to insecurity, underfunding to deliver the planned services, interruption to service delivery due to a return campaign led by the Government, and limited partner presence in critical geographical areas.
Situation in Numbers
# of children in need of humanitarian assistance
people in need
(HRP October 20192)
Internally displaced people (IDPs) – (DTM Round 193)
# registered refugees
(UNHCR December 2019)
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
In 2019, conflict-induced displacement, climatic shocks, and the lack of recovery from previous years have continued to drive humanitarian needs. Ethiopia is home to 735,204 refugees, of whom 415,3901 are children. New monthly arrivals in 2019 varied from 6,000 to 11,000, with more than three-quarters of arrivals from Eritrea.
In April, the number of internally displaced persons, driven by conflict and drought, peaked at 3.1 million (2.5 million were conflict-induced and 600,000 were climate-induced; 61 per cent were children). Internally displaced people, especially those living in collective sites, had limited access to basic services, lacked opportunities to rebuild livelihoods, and faced protection risks amid wider security concerns. Family separations, breakdown of support networks, disease outbreaks, and interrupted access to food in 2019, worsened existing vulnerabilities to acute malnutrition. Poor or no access to primary health services, inadequate water and sanitation facilities, and poor health-seeking and hygiene practices put displaced children at a higher risk of contracting preventable diseases in crowded collective sites. Following the March launch of the Government’s Plan to address internal displacements in Ethiopia, over 2.1 million conflict-induced IDPs had been returned, integrated or relocated by May2. Nevertheless, 1.6 million IDPs3, including 850,000 children, are still officially displaced and will require humanitarian assistance in 2020. Likewise, many of those returned remained displaced, without access to basic services and recovery support, and in communities experiencing on-going or renewed insecurity.
New displacements are active and remain a threat to existing caseloads as the potential for conflicts over scarce natural resources and unresolved regional border issues remain.
Erratic and below-normal spring belg/gu/genna rainfall resulted in water and pasture shortages and poor livestock conditions and contributed to deteriorating food and nutrition security in the lowlands. Food insecurity affected over eight million people. In 2020, food security is expected to worsen to Crisis (IPC 34) between February and June in Belg-dependent and pastoralist areas affecting 4.2 million children, of whom 444,000 are expected to be affected by SAM, and three million pregnant and lactating women and children are expected to be affected by Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM).
Floods in Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, Oromia, Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNP), Somali and Tigray contributed to displacements and the loss of livestock and crops affecting 795,000 people.
In the Somali Region, unseasonal and extended heavy rainfall resulted in floods that severely damaged infrastructure and disrupted people’s livelihoods.
Ethiopia remains vulnerable to outbreaks of epidemic prone diseases. Cholera is a major public health risk and 2,565 cases were reported in 2019 in Addis Ababa, Afar, Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harari, Oromia, SNNP, Somali and Tigray regions. While reported cases were lower than in previous years, predisposing factors remain, with communities remaining vulnerable. Other epidemics reported in 2019 include measles, vaccine derived polio virus type 2, malaria and chikungunya.
With Ethiopia endorsing the amended Refugee Proclamation in January 20195, it is imperative that interventions are designed to not only respond to immediate humanitarian needs but establish, longer-term durable solutions for refugee integration within host communities. Similarly, Ethiopia’s commitment to ratification of the Kampala Convention and consequent national legislation would ensure better protection of IDP rights in Ethiopian domestic law and policy.
A Durable Solutions Initiative for IDPs was launched in December 2019 and intends to link humanitarian and development interventions for longer-term sustainable gains. Similarly, a Multi-Year Resilience Strategy will be implemented from 2020-2025 to improve outcomes for 12 drought-prone zones in Ethiopia’s north-east that have received multi-year assistance for both chronic poverty and food insecurity.