Last year, we asked you to help displaced families caught in the middle of conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. With gifts totalling $425,600, UNHCR has been able to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of people forced to flee – and we aim to stay and deliver.

Our teams have been leading and coordinating the emergency response on the ground at the border in Sudan since the violence erupted. For the past six months, our staff have been in the field providing emergency shelter, potable water and health screening to the thousands of refugee women, children and men arriving in search of protection.

Since November, violence and conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has driven more than 62,000 people to seek refuge in neighbouring Sudan. Refugees continue to arrive across the border, many detailing they were without food and water during the conflict and were forced to leave the elderly and chronically ill behind.

“UNHCR has been working tirelessly to build two camps for 40,000 people – which is the size of a small city. Our priority is to move refugees further inland away from the fighting,” said Axel Bisschop, UNHCR Representative in Sudan last month.

We are distributing relief items, including blankets, sleeping mats, plastic sheeting and hygiene kits, and distributing soap and tens of thousands of face masks at border points to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the Tigray region, cross the border into Hamdayet, Sudan and navigate the Tekeze river. @UNHCR/Hazim Elhag

UNHCR vehicles drive through the village of Chew Ber in northern Ethiopia, close to the Tigray region. @UNHCR/Chris Melzer

 

 

In Tigray, we continue to work with the government and partners to re-establish a regular presence at the camps for almost 100,000 Eritrean refugees who live in the region. We are well positioned to continue to deliver urgently needed supplies, protection, healthcare and shelter to refugees.

UNHCR has regained access to the Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps in the northern Tigray region for the first time since conflict began. Both camps were found completely destroyed, and all the humanitarian facilities looted and vandalised.

UNHCR is deeply concerned for the well-being of the Eritrean refugees who were residing there. More than 7,000 of some 20,000 have reached the southern Mai-Aini and Adi Harush camps, where UNHCR and partners have been establishing a regular presence since January.

Protection and other critical services are gradually resuming in the Mai-Aini and Adi Harush camps, and all newly received refugees have been provided with Core Relief Items. UNHCR is clearing school sites where families sheltered and moving them into emergency shelters. As a result, classes have resumed at the primary school in the Adi Harush camp.

 

 

Unfortunately, the existing emergency shelters in the southern Tigray camps will only address the needs of refugees for a short period and under the current dry conditions.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi visited Ethiopia and the Mai Aini refugee camp in February, and said the humanitarian situation is grave.

“People need all possible forms of support: food items, non-food items, medicine, clean water, shelter,” the High Commissioner said.

“In my experience if you don’t attend to this escalating humanitarian crisis the needs become so acute and so big and huge that it is much more difficult to address. We still have time, in spite of all the suffering that has already happened, to intervene now.”

With your help, we have been able to respond quickly and prepare for future needs.

Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country's Tigray region water their donkeys in the Tekeze river after crossing the border into Sudan. @UNHCR/Hazim Elhag

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