This Emergency Appeal seeks a total of 27 million Swiss francs to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support three National Societies – Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) and Djibouti Red Crescent Society (DRCS) to deliver humanitarian assistance to and support early recovery of some 660,000 people (displaced and host communities) in Ethiopia (355,000 people), Sudan (300,000 people), and in Djibouti (5,000 people) affected by multiple disasters and compounding humanitarian vulnerabilities intensified by the Tigray crisis for a period of 18 months. The operation will focus on the following areas: Shelter and Essential Household Items (EHI), Livelihood & Basic Needs, Health & Psychosocial Support (PSS), Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Protection, Gender & Inclusion (PGI), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), and Migration & Displacement.
With social tensions increasing in different regions of Ethiopia and overwhelming conditions for displaced populations in Sudan and in Djibouti, new displacement routes into Kenya or other neighbouring countries cannot be ruled out. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent (the Movement) partners will continue to monitor these trends and may expand the geographical area if preparedness and response activities are necessary to ensure humanitarian services are provided to affected people in countries beyond the three proposed.
It must be noted that this coordinated emergency appeal in response to the complex emergency will reinforce the actions of the Movement by seeking complementarity with the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) response. A strong membership coordination mechanism will be put in place to ensure the support being provided by Participating National Societies (pNS) is fully aligned with this appeal in support of the plans of each of the three National Societies. A Movement coordination platform was created to ensure seamless coordination, co-operation, timely communication and maximizing resources. Movement Partners conduct regular meetings to ensure strong coordination, technical support to ERCS, SRCS and DRCS and complementarity. As of the launch of this Appeal, in addition to the initial DREFs, support to the responses have been through bilateral channels from pNSs in country. A Federation-wide footprint will be ensured to reflect the support provided through this appeal and by all National Societies.
The disaster and the Red Cross Red Crescent response to date
9 September 2020: Tigray Regional Government holds parliamentary elections despite notice by the Federal Government to postpone the national elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic
6 November 2020: A series of violent attacks reported in Tigray, Amhara and Asmara in Eritrea. Access in and out of Tigray by road and air is cut off and communication (both telephone and internet) shut down in the region.
October 2020: Various attacks reported in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People´s Region (SNNPR) and Oromia region, with civilian casualties.
4 November 2020: Clashes between the Ethiopian Federal Government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) resulted in a growing humanitarian emergency including heavy casualties and population movements both internally and cross border. 9 million people within or near the Tigray region are at risk.
9 November 2020: Sudan receives an initial influx of asylum seekers, with an arrival of 7,000 in 24-hours at two border entry points in Sudan’s Gedaref and Kassala.
18/20 November 2020: IFRC launches a DREF in support to SRCS to grant relief to 40,000 refugees in Kassala and Gadared for a period of 4 months. Two days later, a DREF is issued to support ERCS providing assistance to 7,500 people displaced in Amhara region, while needs assessments are ongoing in Tigray and other areas.
1 December 2020: At least 950,154 people are reportedly displaced within the Tigray region of Ethiopia into Sudan and other areas since start of the armed violence, as per an assessment conducted by the Tigray regional sector bureaus (WASH, Health, Agriculture, BOLSA,) and the NGO REST (UNOCHA Situation Report Dec 7).
1 December 2020: Consultative meeting to strengthen collaboration between Ethiopia RC and Sudanese RC, Venue: Addis Abba, Ethiopia. To agree a set of actions and collaboration which will inform to a strategic framework which will facilitate both short- and long-term coalitions in response to the compounded humanitarian needs and their impacts between and in the three counties i.e. (Tigray crisis, Covid19, Locusts, food insecurity, population movements and climatic impacted crisis)
12 December 2020: ERCS/ICRC first humanitarian convoy arrived in Mekelle with humanitarian assistance and medical supplies to hospitals. Following this, regular pipelines were established between Addis and Mekelle
20 January 2021: ERCS/ICRC convoy from Mekelle to Adigrat, Axum, Adwa and Shire with humanitarian assistance and food to support medical facilities.
The operational strategy
Description of the Humanitarian Situation
Continued tensions in Northern Ethiopia erupted in violent armed clashes early November 2020 and led to mass displacements within Tigray and into neighbouring regions of Ethiopia and Sudan. According to the latest report from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OCHA about 950,000 people were in need of aid before the crisis, and a projected additional 1.3m will need assistance. Over 60,000 refugees have crossed the international border into Sudan as of mid-December 2020. Two months have elapsed since the crisis erupted in Tigray region resulting in loss of life, injuries, destruction of property, and displacement of the population. Livelihood activity has been disrupted, with livestock and crops damaged; people’s access to food reduced dramatically, and property burnt down causing psychological distress. Affected population are without shelter, access to water and sanitation facilities, while existing government structures are partially or fully non-functional in some pocket areas. Roads, health centres, schools, electricity, hospitals, telecoms, are damaged and disrupted.
IDPs fleeing armed violence need emergency humanitarian assistance, such as first aid services and psychological first aid, basic health care as well as water, food and protection. However, humanitarian access is constrained for most agencies. During displacement, refugees are confronted by numerous protections risks with continued reports of violence, lawlessness, looting, abductions, and forced recruitment. Crossing over into Sudan, refugees encounter camp settings strained beyond capacity and lacking in basic healthcare, WASH and shelter infrastructures. There are also a significant number of displaced people who require special attention, such as people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and hundreds of unaccompanied children. Eventually, IDPs and refugees will seek support within the host communities which are already extremely stretched and stressed by previous shocks that have affected these regions since 2019, such as floods, droughts, locust infestations, malaria and COVID-19 pandemic.
The ongoing crisis in Tigray has aggravated an already dire situation in Ethiopia, with acute food insecurity escalating. It is estimated that over 1 million farmers in Ethiopia have suffered crop losses, heavily affected by locust infestations that have devastated an estimated 200,000 hectares of cropland. As a result, a food shortage is looming with food prices reported to have doubled. Before the crisis, 600,000 people in the Tigray region were already dependent on humanitarian assistance . Market functionality has been disrupted by the armed violence with limited access to financial institutions and banks, thus affecting the cash flow. This is normally the harvest season in the region, with farmers having very little or nothing at all to salvage. The projections are gloomy in Ethiopia, with climate induced La Niña conditions leading to below average rainfall which may eventually develop into a severe drought and devastate the remaining crops, cutting the already dwindling food supply and causing a sharp drop in incomes.
In Sudan, refugees fleeing the crisis have settled mostly in Kassala and Gedaref States which are already overwhelmed with over 900,000 refugees and migrants. Sudan has received an influx of close to 60,000 refugees from Ethiopia within a two-month time. With the recent sudden unplanned influx of refugees from Ethiopia, the transit centres have exceeded their capacity. Gaps remain across all sectors, including access to clean drinking water, latrines, handwashing stations, and bathing units as well as shelter and basic health care and protection services. To accommodate refugees and migrants, a significant number of trees in the area were cut, deforesting the region, contributing further to soil erosion, which has impacted the displaced, migrants, refugees and the host communities alike. The risks associated with COVID-19 are extremely high in these crowded sites, and social tensions cannot be ruled out. Sudan is also likely to see increased food insecurity as the result of inflation, pushing the cost of some basic food items up by 200%, as well as the flooding which submerged approximately 1.4 million hectares of cropland.
In Djibouti, there are signs that the situation is starting to deteriorate. Currently, 66 Ethiopians of Tigray origin that have returned from the Gulf region transiting in Djibouti have now been stranded due to the current Tigray crisis. As tensions between the different ethnic groups were present in the transit camp of Aouraoussa, authorities decided to transfer the Tigrayans to Hol Hol refugee camp4 for processing and registration as refugees. It is possible any arriving Tigrayans wishing to claim asylum will have to be housed in Obock Camp, putting pressure on a town already suffering from scarce services and extreme levels of poverty. In the initial days of the crisis, over 600 Ethiopian trucks were abandoned in Djibouti and around 80% of Ethiopian truck drivers hail from the Tigray region. So far, 165 truck drivers claimed asylum and were transferred to Hol Hol camp to be processed and registered as refugees. Moreover, Ethiopians from different regions continue to cross the border daily for private and commercial purposes, both officially and unofficially, and the situation can change rapidly stranding Ethiopians in Djibouti indefinitely.