Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country's northern Tigray region, cross the border into Hamdayet, Sudan.
© UNHCR/Hazim Elhag

Ethiopia Tigray Emergency

Conflict and food shortages are fuelling a full-scale humanitarian emergency.

A full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding as thousands have fled fighting in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Ethiopia is the third largest refugee hosting country in Africa, home to over 924,000 refugees and asylum seekers—mainly from South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.

Since early November 2020 fierce fighting between the Tigray regional government and Ethiopian federal forces has killed thousands and displaced millions of Ethiopians. 

Since the violence began, refugees have been arriving at remote border points that take hours to reach from the nearest towns in Sudan. Many are women and children. Most left with barely any belongings and arrived exhausted from walking long distances over harsh terrain.

With no end in sight to the conflict, the steady stream of daily arrivals is overwhelming the current capacity to provide aid. More support is urgently needed.

“I was scared something bad would happen to us if we stayed. We had no choice but to escape.”

Letha, Ethiopian refugee in Sudan

Letha and her daughter Eymaret are all smiles after being reunited following months of separation due to the conflict in northern Ethiopia.
© UNHCR/Abdulkhaliq Khalif

Letha’s Story

Letha was seven months pregnant when she made the difficult decision to leave her home in Ethiopia’s western Tigray region without all of her family.

When fighting broke out in November 2020, she was separated from her husband, son and daughter, and fled across the border into Sudan with her two youngest children.

They were accommodated at a reception centre where UNHCR provided them with assistance, including food and shelter.

Letha later delivered a healthy baby boy, but she still felt bereft.

“I wasn’t at peace, because I didn’t know where the rest of my family was,” she says.

With help from UNHCR and its partners, Letha was reunited with her 11-year-old daughter, Eymaret after a seven month separation.   

But the search for Letha’s husband and son continues.

“We had a good life back home and lived peacefully. My dream is for our whole family to be together again,” she says. 


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About Tigray Crisis

What is happening in Tigray, Ethiopia?

The Tigray conflict began in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia in 2020, when thousands of refugees began fleeing ongoing fighting in the region to seek safety in eastern Sudan.

Refugees – mostly women and children who are exhausted from walking long distances over rough terrain – have been arriving at remote border points. With no end in sight to the conflict, more support is urgently needed.

How can I help refugees from Tigray?

You can help refugees fleeing Ethiopia and internally displaced people by making a donation or fundraising for us.

Your support will provide emergency shelter, portable water and health screening to the thousands of refugee women, children and men arriving from the Tigray region in search of protection.

Our fundraising impact

The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.

Humanitarian programs