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Ethiopia: Tigray Population Movement - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation n° MDRET024

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Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

09 September 2020: Tigray Regional Government holds parliamentary elections despite notice by the Federal Government on postponement of the national elections, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tentative plan was to hold the elections in 2021, therefore extending the current government’s term.

03-04 November: Fighting erupts between the Ethiopian Defence Forces and security forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) following an attack on a military base in Mekele, Tigray region’s capital, and other fronts stretching near the Eritrean border.

06 November: Six-month State of Emergency declared for Tigray region, following approval by Ethiopian government parliament. Access in and out of Tigray by road and air is cut off and communication (both telephone and internet) shut down in the region. Banks and financial institutions in Tigray have limitations with access to cash, affecting normal functionality of markets and access to basic commodities

19 November: The armed clashes continues between the two forces reported in different areas, in Tigray and on the stretch of Tigray border with Amhara region of Ethiopia in the South and with Eritrea and Sudan as well as with the border with Afar region.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), approximately 600,000 people in Tigray region were already dependent on humanitarian relief assistance before the armed clashes. Tigray is also one of the regions which is affected by the swarm of desert locust which affected East African Countries in 2019/2020. Over 400,000 people are food insecure with 100,000 people internally displaced from previous armed clashes. The region hosts approximately 96,000 Eritrean refugees who are hosted across four refugee camps namely, Adi Harush, Hitsats, Mai-Aini and Shimelba The current humanitarian situation in the region is expected to worsen should the armed clashes persist. It has been difficult to establish the exact numbers of internal displaced people (IDPs) within Tigray region due to lack of communication and access. In addition, it is difficult to establish the movement trends of the populations inside Tigray, whether they are moving to the south to the Amhara region of Ethiopia or internally within Tigray to the main cities. So far, there has been reports of people in southern Tigray crossing into Amhara region, as well as people in areas in Amhara bordering Tigray moving further inland away from armed clashes zones. Ethiopia Red Cross Society branches in North Wollo and North Gondar in Amhara region report that 261 people were displaced from Alamata (southern zone of Tigray) and temporarily settled in Kobo town in North Wollo. 780 people were displaced from Kobo town and temporarily settled in Woldia town (capital of North Wollo).

Cross border movement of Ethiopian refugees into Sudan continues to increase. UNHCR daily new arrival update on 18 November indicates that over 31,353 people have already arrived in Sudan, fleeing the armed clashes. This number exceeds UNHCR projection of 20,000 asylum seekers expected to cross in Sudan in one month.