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Tigray Crisis: Population Movement Complex Emergency - Operation 6 month update, n° MDRTIGRAY

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Situation Overview

In Ethiopia, the humanitarian situation; and the prevailing outlook remains of considerable concern – with more than 16 million people in need of urgent assistance. Since November 2020, fighting between the Ethiopian Government and the Tigray Defence Forces has resulted in loss of life; injuries; destruction of property and infrastructure; displacement; loss of livelihood and has led to psychological distress across northern Ethiopia. Displaced populations from Tigray region and other internally displaced people (IDPs) remain in camps.

On 28 June 2021, a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire in Tigray was announced by the Ethiopian Government; and while movement and access are improving, the security situation remains a concern. Persisting violence including spill over into Afar and Amhara regions has generated new population movement; and there remains disruption to basic services such as electricity and communications, as well as reduction in availability of cash, food, and fuel.
Food insecurity and malnutrition has been exacerbated by the cascading effects of the crisis; with an estimated 5.5 million in Tigray, and adjacent areas of neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions now experiencing acute food insecurity. According to analysis conducted by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) initiative – more than 400,000 people are in Catastrophic IPC Phase 5, which is the highest number of people in this category since the 2011 Somalia i . Below-average rainfall projected for the rest of 2021 threatens to exacerbate food insecurity and other humanitarian needs, while also increasing the risk for violence as communities compete for even more limited water resources.

In other areas of Ethiopia, the humanitarian situation remains of considerable concern. In the North Shewa and Oromia Special zone of Amhara region, there has been spates of ethnic violence, which has resulted in the displacement of 358,000 people. There are also concerns regarding the deteriorating situation in Benishangul-Gumuz, where unknown armed groups are gaining momentum in western areas of the region and restricting access.
Meanwhile, though the 2021 general elections were conducted peacefully, the postponement of elections (until September 2021) in Harari and Somali regions, and parts of Oromia region; combined with delayed declaration of results in some polling stations in Oromia raises concerns on perceptions on the regularity in which they were conducted which may impact opposition groups acceptance of the results. In the complex security situation, these factors continue to exacerbate the risk of election-related violence.

In Sudan, the crisis has led to an increase number of arrivals of people fleeing the region seeking safety across the border. A total of 55,493 arrivals had been reported by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Sudan’s Government Commissioner for Refugees (COR) as of 31 July 2021 – with this number is expected to increase to upwards once verification processes are completed. These numbers also include nearly 897 people from the Qemant ethnic group who crossed the border in late July 2021, following clashes between Ethiopian Federal Defence Forces and other affiliated groups, with Tigrayan Defence Forces in Gondar zone of Amhara region. This group is currently receiving assistance in Basundah locality of Gedaref state, while authorities assess a new site for these arrivals.

Living conditions in transit centres located in Kassala (Hamdayet) and Village 8 (Gedaref) remain congested with poor living conditions due to continued gaps in the provision of basic services. As of 31 July 2021, nearly 9,000 people remained at Hamdayet and Village 8 centre, facilities with an original capacity to host less than 1,000 people. Efforts to move people to permanent settlements has therefore been expedited, with more than 38,000 people relocated to permanent settlements in Um Rakuba and Tunaidba. Nonetheless the significant and rapid pace of the refugee influx has required a continuous scale up of services to respond to the urgent needs of refugees, as well as to support to the Government of Sudan (GoS) in its response to the growing demand in humanitarian assistance.

The influx of new arrivals has had a considerable impact on the host communities and the environment. Due to the overcrowding at transit centres, many refugees are also scattered among existing villages and staying with host communities, further stretching the already limited available basic services. Heavy rains and flooding have also caused widespread damage to shelter and other infrastructures, with increased the risk of COVID-19 due to overcrowding also exacerbated. Sudan is also experiencing increased food insecurity resulting from inflation, which has pushed the cost of basic items up by 200%.

Djibouti shares border with Ethiopia and is accessible to refugees. Moreover, there is also formal refugee camp under UN agency for refugees UNHCR at Hol Hol. Latest news briefing by UNHCR on 7 June 20211 estimated the Ethiopian refugees in Djibouti to be over 12,000 of which 300 of them are of Tigray origin who are relative to the current conflict.

As much as the influx of refugees as result of Tigray crisis from the start of the violence were more to Sudan than Djibouti, with the escalation of fighting into the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions there is possibility of prospective Ethiopian refugee population movement especially from Afar region because of ethnic homogeneity of the populations in either side of the border as IDP population builds up in these regions.

In January 2021, IFRC launched a coordinated Federation-Wide (FW) Emergency Appeal requesting CHF 27 million, to support Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies (NS) in Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti provide humanitarian assistance to populations that had been affected by the crisis. The FW Emergency Appeal was revised in March 2021, with a consolidated Secretariat (multilateral) component covering CHF 9.4 million Secretariat (Ethiopia CHF million, Sudan CHF 4.4 million, Djibouti CHF 0.5 million, Regional Coordination CHF 1.5 million), and CHF 17.6 million bilateral.

Minimum funding coverage on this Emergency Appeal relative to the needs across Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti have limited the provision of activities and services to affected populations in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.