UNHCR is currently updating existing regional contingency plans for the Ethiopia situation, including for Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan. While the further evolution of the conflict and external and internal displacement patterns are difficult to predict, UNHCR and partners are putting in place preparedness measures in several countries with the approach of “no regrets” – including procurement and prepositioning of tents and core relief items in countries like Sudan where these items can be used in others parts of the country if not needed for an influx from Ethiopia. Identification of potential sites and coordination with relevant authorities is ongoing. The Regional Bureau is carrying out an overall gap analysis to identify where support would be most needed by sector.
On 9 November, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Martin Griffiths concluded his four-day visit to Ethiopia. In a statement, the ERC said he had “constructive discussions” with Prime Minister Abiy and his Deputy on the humanitarian situation in the country and the challenges aid organizations face in getting assistance to all Ethiopians in need. In Mekelle, the ERC engaged with de facto authorities on the need for humanitarian access and protection of civilians through all areas under their control, and respect for humanitarian principles. At the same time, a high-level mission with WFP and OCHA visited the Amhara region and discussed with the Amhara Regional President to identify means of improving humanitarian access and aid to people in need in Amhara region, including those newly affected by the conflict. The mission also visited an IDP site.
On 5 November, UNHCR, WFP and ARRA appealed for US$68 million to avoid food ration cuts for over 700,000 refugees’ country-wide in Ethiopia. In a joint statement, the agencies said that funding shortages will force ration cuts of up to 60 percent of the minimum food basket recommended. Growing risks including increased malnutrition and anemia, stunted child growth, deterioration of the health status due to susceptibility to diseases/infection and a myriad of protection risks have further been compounded by the COVID 19 pandemic.
On 3 November, OHCHR released the joint OHCHR/Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report on human rights violations in the Tigray conflict. The report urges that “All parties involved in the escalating conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray must stop fighting immediately, or else risk pushing the region’s catastrophic humanitarian situation over the edge,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet at the launch of the report. The report details the findings of the Joint Investigative Team (JIT) including human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian and refugee law committed by all parties involved in the conflict noting some of which may amount to “war crimes and crimes against humanity” and further states that “perpetrators must be brought to justice.”