UNHCR obtained confirmation about reported airstrikes in the Mai Aini refugee camp on 5 January, where three refugees were killed and four wounded, though their lives are not at risk. UNHCR is also assisting the injured refugees to receive medical care. UNHCR also published a news statement reiterating the call for all parties to the conflict to respect the rights of all civilian including refugees, as well as for the protection of refugee settlements.
In the Tigray region, drone/air strikes launched on Alamata town and its surroundings during the week of 17 - 24 December reportedly resulted in 28 fatalities. As of 28 December, air strikes continued to be reported in Alamata, Mekelle, Korem and Maychew. The UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) advised all humanitarian staff to remain highly vigilant and ensure that security measures continue to be implemented and reinforced. Amidst the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation and ongoing displacement UNHCR has continued to provide lifesaving services to refugees and internally displaced persons in the Northern regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar (estimates of some 1.8 million IDPs in Tigray, 1 million in Amhara, and 334,196 in Afar). UNHCR has significantly scaled up presence and IDP response in Tigray and in the neighboring regions. Operations however continue to be severely hampered by the impacts of the ongoing conflict (lack of cash, fuel, communications persist).
UNHCR has not registered major new arrivals from Ethiopia, but some 50 households have arrived in Maban since the beginning of the conflict in 2020. It is reported that there is increase in number of spontaneous returns from Ethiopia (2,400 returns recorded in October) to South Sudan have cited growing insecurity in Ethiopia as a reason for their decision to return.
Sudan remains UNHCR’s priority country for contingency planning in the region and efforts are ongoing to identify a suitable location for a possible additional camp in case of a new influx. To date, the dynamics in Western Tigray appear to be resulting in internal displacement with people either opting to move internally or unable to cross to Sudan. Discussions with the government on maintaining an open border for asylum-seekers and prepositioning of stocks of relief items are ongoing in case the situation shifts. New arrivals in December have remained at a relatively low level of around 50 individuals per week.