DESCRIPTION OF THE EVENT
The crisis in Ethiopia and its humanitarian consequences are of grave concern. Latest reports indicate that 23 million people in the country are now in need of humanitarian assistance, due to the combined consequences of conflict, drought, epidemics, food insecurity, and pest outbreaks, which has, in turn, sparked displacement and population movement.
Sustained fighting which began in the Tigray region in November 2021, has spread to locations across northern Ethiopia resulting in loss of life, injuries, destruction of property and infrastructure, displacement, loss of livelihood and has led to psychological distress. In June 2021, a humanitarian ceasefire was announced inside the Tigray region, however, fighting has persisted with the extension of the violence into adjacent Afar and Amhara. In Benishangul-Gumuz (BGZ), Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regions (SNNPR); violence has also continued to flare up. This has generated new population movements, and in some cases, led individuals to face secondary or tertiary displacement. On 2 November 2021, a state of emergency was declared, underpinning the protracted nature of the fighting, and deep concerns regarding the security situation.
While much of the needs from this crisis originally stemmed from and impacted populations inside Tigray, the evolution of the fighting has now exacerbated humanitarian needs across Ethiopia. Natural and man-made shocks, such as severe droughts and floods, locust infestation, and direct/indirect impact of COVID-19 have complicated the situation even further; and increased the number of people in need of assistance in other regions of the country.
In Sudan, the crisis has led to an increased number of arrivals of people from Ethiopia seeking safety across the border, predominantly to Gedaref, Blue Nile and Kassala states. As of 31 October 2021, a total of 58,021 people had arrived from Ethiopia in Sudan3 , of which 50,159 people are residing in East Sudan (Kassala and Gedaref) and 7,862 people in Blue Nile State. The total number of arrivals is expected to increase once verification processes are completed. In addition, with fighting in Ethiopia now spread over a larger geographical area, this is expected to further increase the total number of displacements. Since July 2021, new Qemant arrivals (2,318) from the Amhara region have reached Sudan and are currently accommodated in the Basundah transit centre in Gedaref State. Commissioner for Refugees (COR) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) are planning a new site in Babikri (Gedaref) for all non-Tigrayan arrivals and considering two additional sites as part of the contingency plan, all in Gedaref.
In other countries that share a border with Ethiopia, the influx of refugees has thus far been modest. However, with the escalation of fighting in new areas, the situation is fluid, and there is the possibility of prospective Ethiopian refugee population movement into Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan. Djibouti shares a long porous border with Ethiopia, and due to the generalization of the fighting beyond Tigray, and into Afar, population movement is possible due to cultural and ethnic affinity. The borders with northern Kenya and western Sudan, present points where people could also cross. In these areas, residents are already experiencing challenging conditions. An influx of arrivals from Ethiopia could increase pressure on scarce resources, prompting further instability, and generating a humanitarian situation which authorities are not yet prepared for.