One month on since the start of the conflict in Tigray, the humanitarian situation continues to critically deteriorate.
Dire shortages of the most basic supplies, including food, water, fuel and cash affect the whole region, leading to a looming humanitarian catastrope.
With access to water, sanitation & health services seriously disrupted, humanitarians warned about the heightened risk of water-borne & vector-borne diseases, as well as COVID-19.
The conflict continues to forced people from their homes, with thousands internally displaced and nearly 50,000 seeking refuge in Sudan.
The UN and the Federal Government signed an agreement that seeks to enable access for humanitarians to areas under the control of the Federal Government in Tigray, Amhara and Afar.
The humanitarian situation in Tigray continues to deteriorate rapidly, one month on since the conflict began in early November. Although verification of the full extent of the crisis is still challenging due to telecommunication blackouts and lack of access, humanitarians on the ground have reported critical shortages of the most basic commodities, including food and water, affecting the whole region, the refugee camps and aid workers living in Tigray. Humanitarian needs have reportedly further increased following the recent clashes in the capital Mekelle.
The situation in the refugee camps is reportedly dire, and UNHCR is appealing to the Federal authorities in Ethiopia for urgent access in order to reach Eritrean refugees who are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and services, as the camps have run out of food supplies. Partners have called for the immediate reinstatement of cash transfers and access to fuel and food distributions across Tigray and health commodities, particularly in Mekelle.
Humanitarian actors have warned of a risk of water-and vector borne diseases due to the lack of access to clean water and sanitation services, majority of which were reportedly destroyed during the conflict. Health partners have raised concerns over the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 infections in the affected areas, which was already reporting a high caseload prior to the conflict. As people flee in large numbers, there are fears that the risk of transmission will increase, including to areas of displacement as people live in crowded places with lack of access to health care and prevention measures. Routine medical and health services, including testing and risk communication and sensitization campaigns for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 remain interrupted in the region since the start of the conflict.
Health care facilities in Tigray region need support to care for the wounded, and hospitals are also running out of drugs and supplies for routine medical issues.
The conflict continues to push people from their homes, and at least 950,154 people have reportedly been displaced within Tigray region and into Sudan since the conflict started, according to an assessment conducted by the Tigray regional sector bureaus (WASH, Health, Agriculture, BOLSA,) and the NGO REST. The internally displaced people are sheltering in schools and with host communities. Food, non-food items, health services, WASH, mass psychosocial support are some of the identified priority needs.
Ethio Telecom clarified that telecommunications services have been fully resumed in Alamata, and partially resumed in areas such as Dansha, Turkan, Humera, Shiraro, Maytsebri and May Kadra but many areas remain disconnected and inaccessible.
Humanitarian actors in Ethiopia and across the border in Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan remain concerned over the humanitarian situation in Tigray, that is currently affecting operations in neighbouring countries.
The conflict continues to forcibly displace people into Sudan, where humanitarians are reporting complex logistical and operational challenges in the response. Nearly 50,000 people, 45 per cent of whom are children, are noow seeking refuge in eastern Sudan. Although UNHCR reported a decline in the average daily arrivals from about 2,000 people per day to about 700 people between 1 and 2 December, the number of people crossing the border started to increase again over the last days.
UNHCR and partners in Sudan have warned about the urgent need for additional refugee settlement sites, as the Um Rakuba camp in Gedaref State, now with about 10,500 people, has surpassed its maximum capacity of 10,000 people. The relocation from bordercontiues to be hampered by logistics and distances, limiting the number of people being transferred. Media reports highlight the ‘resourceful doctors’ among Tigrayan refugees who fled to Sudan and are now striving to assist their fellow refugees with medical consultations.
Humanitarian actors have reported that hundreds of refugees remain close to the border and are worried about the destruction of their crops, which were due for harvest. This is likely to impact food security in the area in the coming months. UNHCR and partners continue to scale up relief efforts together with Sudan’s Commission on Refugees and local authorities amidst complex logistical challenges.
The UN and our partners have finalized their refugee response plan [Inter-Agency Refugee Emergency Response Plan - Refugee Influx from Ethiopia] seeking US$147 million to help a projected 100,000 refugees between November and June 2021. UNHCR continues to call for international assistance for the thousands of refugees who have arrived in eastern Sudan amid a vulnerable humanitarian situation characterized by food insecurity and economic hardships.
The Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF) has allocated an initial $425,000 to the most immediate health, water, sanitation and hygiene needs of people hosted in Um Raquba Camp, Gedaref, and is working on additional allocations to be announced over the coming days.
UNHCR has activated the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism for the Sudan response.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.