Background and key developments
Military confrontations between federal and regional forces in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, which borders both Sudan and Eritrea, led the Government to declare a State of Emergency on 4 November 2020. As the Tigray conflict enters its 10th month, the overall security and access situation remains complex and fluid, hindering effective delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most affected populations in Central, Southern-Eastern, Eastern, North-Western and Southern Zones. Fresh displacement from fighting in Ethiopia’s Amhara and Afar regions has been recorded as the conflict spreads beyond the Tigray region. In addition to some 2.1 million internally displaced people in Tigray, there are 250,000 people in Amhara region and 112,000 in Afar region being internally displaced according to the local authorities and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Of particular concern is the safety and wellbeing of thousands of Eritrean refugees living in the three Eritrean refugee camps of Mai Aini and Adi Harush in Tigray region and Berhale in Afar region. While providing immediate support with limited access, UNHCR’s priority is to facilitate the relocation of refugees out of the conflict areas as soon as possible to continue to call for cessation of hostilities to be able to do so. In this regard, UNHCR is working urgently to construct a new camp, Alemwach, which will be able to host some 25,000 refugees from Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps. UNHCR and the Ethiopian Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) have also developed a relocation plan ready to be implemented. UNHCR also continues to be very concerned about the safety and well-being of thousands of refugees that are unreachable. For months, UNHCR has been working with ARRA to locate, identify and support the Eritrean refugees who were previously sheltered in the Northern Tigray refugee camps of Hitsats and Shimelba, but fled when those camps were destroyed in January 2021.
Displacement figures Prior to the outbreak of the Tigray crisis on 4 November 2020, the total refugee population registered in Tigray (95,929) and Afar (54,183) was 150,012, with the majority in camps, and a small population of 7,800 living outside of camp settings under the Out of Camp Policy (OCP). At the outset of the crisis, UNHCR confirmed 59,759 refugees as the baseline for the refugee population known to be in Tigray.
According to OCHA, the conflict in Tigray has displaced some 2.1 million people in Tigray region, 250,000 people in Amhara region and 112,000 in Afar region.