Military operations led by the Ethiopian Federal Defence against forces linked to the Tigray Regional Security Forces (TRSF) have been underway since November 4th, 2020 following a reported attack on the Ethiopian Northern Command federal forces based in Tigrayan regional state. Weeks into the conflict the situation escalated beyond the Tigray Regional State, with shelling of airports reported in Bahir Dar and Gondar in the Amhara Region, and installations in the Eritrean capital of Asmara. The result has been a tense and volatile humanitarian situation, with thousands of people reportedly displaced internally within the Tigray Regional State and beyond into the neighbouring regional states of Amhara and Afar.
While humanitarian organizations are still not able to access the region to carry out assessments and respond to the increasing humanitarian needs due to the ongoing armed confrontations, shortage of basic supplies and services have been reported across the Tigray Region at a time when Ethiopia is grappling with a dire humanitarian situation caused by internal displacement, the desert locust infestation resulting in food insecurity, and all of this in the COVID-19 pandemic context. Without unconditional humanitarian access, there is great concern about the delivery of the most basic services, including water, food and essential medicines.
With daunting challenges ahead, IOM is scaling up its preparedness operations in country in order to increase its readiness to provide humanitarian and protection assistance to the affected populations and their host communities in Northern Ethiopia. This plan is in line with the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG) Humanitarian Preparedness Plan for the period of November 2020 to January 2021, which estimates a total caseload of 1.98 million in the worst-case scenario of the escalating humanitarian crisis.