Background and key developments
On 4 November 2020, military confrontations between federal and regional forces in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, which borders both Sudan and Eritrea, led the Government to declare a State of Emergency.
Since then, and despite the announcement of an official end to military operations in late November, Ethiopia’s Tigray region has continued to be affected by armed clashes and insecurity, leading to further forced displacement of population -particularly in Western Tigray-, and having a serious impact on access and the provision of humanitarian assistance to refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Many refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities have endured more than three months with extremely limited -or no- assistance, leading to a significant escalation in humanitarian needs.
In Eastern Tigray, access has improved over the past weeks and UNHCR and partners have been able to reach some previously inaccessible areas such as Adigrat or Adwa. On 18th March a joint OCHAUNHCR mission gained accessto Shimelba and Hitsats refugee campsfor the first time since November 2020, amid ongoing security concerns. UNHCR staff found both camps that both once vibrant camps have now been completely destroyed, and all the humanitarian facilities looted and vandalized, and refugees have fled the camps. The joint mission was also able to visit Shiraro town, where considerable numbers of Eritrean refugees are believed to be living scattered in the area and in urgent need of safety and support.