The humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia continued to evolve in 2022, because of the conflict in the North of the country, compounded by the worst drought the region has seen in the past 40 years and a high level of violence and insecurity in the Western, Central, and Southern parts of the country. The humanitarian access landscape was marked by lingering conflict and insecurity endangering the lives and livelihoods of Ethiopians while impeding relief operations in Tigray, Amhara, Afar, Oromia, and BGR (Benishangul Gumuz Region) and parts of Somali and SNNP (Southern Nations and Nationalities People) regions.
In Tigray, hostilities led to casualties during the first trimester, while transport of relief items by land came to a complete halt until April. In December 2021, one aid worker was killed in southern Tigray. In Afar, kinetic fighting compromised the safety of the population, led to high displacements, and caused severe damage to infrastructure. Aid convoys through Afar, which were interrupted in December 2021 resumed gradually since April 1 . The number of trucks going through this corridor reached high numbers – exceeding 500 per week in June. Partners have been allowed to mobilize increasing amounts of aid to Tigray (90 per cent food). However, lack of fuel to sustain relief operations remains a critical bottleneck, hindering the distribution of supplies beyond Mekelle. Restrictions on the amounts of cash partners are allowed to mobilize to Tigray continued to impact the scale-up of the response.
In Tigray, public services, including banking, transportation, and telecommunication remain cut off since July 2021.
These impediments have been harmful to the population, particularly those in rural areas as well as to IDPs and persons with pre-existing vulnerabilities such as the elderly, and people with chronic diseases. During the reporting period, partners were able to access most of the region, apart from Humera, Dansha, Wolkayit, and boundary areas with Eritrea. Meanwhile, an estimated 30,000 IDPs have returned to areas of origin within Tigray and continue facing challenges in terms of accessing services as most public infrastructure was destroyed or damaged earlier in the conflict.
In Afar, clashes impacted the mobilization of assistance in Zone 2 and 4 and onwards to Tigray, through the Semera – Abala – Mekelle corridor. Over 300,000 people and thousands of refugees were displaced within the region. At the time of writing, most IDPs have returned to their areas of origin where aid partners are stepping up the response to re-establish basic services. In Semera, thousands of IDPs of Tigrayan origin remain confined in sites, unable to move out or return to their areas of origin. At the end of June, authorities agreed to return and relocate them. On the other hand, recurrent clashes between Afar and Issa clan (Somali) communities in Zone 3 and 5 resulted in the blocking of the road Awash – Semera, impacting partners’ movements on an intermittent basis.
In Amhara, access significantly improved since the beginning of 2022. Tensions continued in border areas with Tigray, along with some woredas disputed in Wag Hamra, North Gondar, and North Wollo zones. In early June, partners were able to conduct the first crossline operation into Abergale Woreda, where no assistance had been provided since June 2021.
In June, access to West Gondar zone’s border areas with Sudan was restricted by the escalation of hostilities around Al-Fashaga. The situation in Oromia Special Zone remained tense.
In Oromia, the conflict with UAGs (Unidentified Armed Groups) increased in scale and scope, rendering large areas hard to reach. According to the authorities, over 572,000 people are displaced only in the Western parts of Oromia (230,000 in East Wollega, 116,000 in West Wollega, 50,000 in Horo Gudru, 87,500 in Kellem, and 89,000 in West Shewa). Partners’ operations have been severely limited due to insecurity, including along the road Addis Ababa - Nekemte - Assossa (BGR).
In June, an attack in West Wellega left dozens of civilians killed, interrupting all relief operations since mid-June. In Central Oromia, partners reported an increase in criminality, with UAGs carrying out sporadic attacks in North and West Shewa. In Southern Oromia, increased armed hostilities further constrained access to large areas in Guji and West Guji where an estimated 550,000 people have been displaced (249,000 in Guji and 295,000 in West Guji).
In BGR, the humanitarian response is impeded by insecurity, limited partners’ presence, and lack of funding. 460,000 out of about 1,218,000 total population are estimated to be displaced (315,000 in Metekel zone, 79,000 in Kamashi, and 66,000 in Assosa & Mao Komo Special Woreda). Since May, relief activities stopped in Kamashi, and partners withdrew due to insecurity. In Metekel, since April, the improved security situation in some woredas prompted the return of about 100,000 IDPs. In Assossa and Mao Komo, clashes with UAGs intensified including in boundary areas with Sudan. Attacks on refugee camps led to the relocation of thousands of refugees and halted relief operations.
In June, security forces and UAGs clashed in Gambela town, prompting partners to suspend operations for weeks. In SNNPR, inter-communal violence has displaced 84,000 people in Konso, Alle, and Derashe areas, where livelihoods have been highly affected by the ongoing drought.
In conflict-affected areas, vulnerable communities flagged food as their most urgent need. Further, the level of destruction and damage to public and private infrastructure prevents the population’s access to basic services such as healthcare, safe water, or education. According to UNMAS (UN Mine Action Service), over 1.1 million people are exposed to the risk of explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions. In areas contaminated by ERW, dozens of people and children have been harmed or killed, access to livelihoods disrupted, and partners’ operations restricted.