More than a year of fighting in northern Ethiopia has displaced millions, creating a protection crisis with reports of widespread gender-based violence, human rights abuses and dangerous levels of food insecurity.
Conflict broke out in the Tigray region in November 2020 and subsequently spread into the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara. The complex security situation, with a state of emergency that lasted from November 2021 to mid-February 2022, has hampered the delivery of assistance and blocked access to some areas. A shortage of cash, fuel, electrical power and telecoms services have repeatedly delayed activities and field missions planned by UNHCR and partners. UN humanitarian flights into Tigray were suspended for a period in late 2021, although they are again operational on a limited basis, while road access into Tigray has been impossible since mid-December 2021.
UNHCR needs donors’ help to ensure that vital protection and assistance can reach the people who need it.The UN Northern Ethiopia Response Plan, revised in October 2021, estimated that 90% of the population of Tigray — 5.2 million people, half of them children — were in urgent humanitarian need. The WFP released an Emergency Food Security Assessment in January 2022 showing that almost 40% of people in Tigray were suffering from an extreme lack of food. An Emergency Site Assessment by IOM showed that as of September 2021 there were 2.6 million internally displaced people in the three regions affected by the crisis.
Serious protection needs persist. A dramatic rise in reports of gender-based violence is believed to represent a fraction of the actual incidence, given the lack of access to medical facilities and social stigma around reporting. Humanitarian partners also report people resorting to extreme negative coping mechanisms to secure access to food. People are moving from rural to urban areas in search of security and assistance, and there has been a notable increase in begging, child labour and women engaging in survival sex for food.
The conflict has sent millions of Ethiopians fleeing for safety within their country and almost 60,000 across the border into Sudan. Tens of thousands of Eritrean refugees have also been uprooted and forced to seek safety elsewhere within Ethiopia.
The security situation in Ethiopia deteriorated during the last quarter of 2021 and UNHCR operations in neighbouring countries put in place emergency preparedness measures to respond to any refugee influx in 2022. The operations include Djibouti, which has undertaken preparedness measures for some 5,000 Ethiopians, while Kenya has prepared for 20,000, Somalia 20,000, South Sudan 20,000 and Sudan 100,000. The measures will enable concerned operations to commence basic preparedness activities in critical sectors such as water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, food security and nutrition, IT/telecommunications, protection, and the procurement of core relief items (CRIs).
To deliver life-saving assistance and protection to up to 110,000 Ethiopians who may seek refuge in Sudan, as well as 1.3 million Ethiopian IDPs and an estimated 158,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, UNHCR is appealing for donors to prioritize $205 million of its existing funding needsfor January-December 2022. This includes $117 million of needs in Ethiopia, $72 million in Sudan, and smaller amounts for other countries in the region to prepare for potential arrivals