Read about the escalating conflict in Ethiopia and how we’re helping.


Right now, we are increasingly concerned by the escalating tension between Ethiopia’s federal government and the regional leadership in Tigray.

The situation erupted into armed conflict in early November. Airstrikes and heavy artillery fire have been wreaking havoc, with casualties reported on both sides.

A six-month state of emergency has been declared in Tigray. The region has been physically sealed off and all telecommunications have been cut, making it extremely difficult to know what is going on exactly and how many people are fleeing.

After Tigrayan missiles reached neighboring Eritrea, there are fears that the situation in Ethiopia and the wider region could spiral out of control.

The government of Ethiopia issued a 72-hour deadline on Sunday 22 November for the region’s fighters to surrender and civilians to leave the regional capital Mekele. If not, the city – home to half a million people – could be encircled and attacked by government forces, possibly including heavy artillery and airstrikes.


Innocent people are caught in the crossfire as the conflict continues to escalate. There have been reports of a massacre of civilians in one town in the southwest of Tigray.

Thousands of people are now fleeing the violence – at least 36,000 people have fled across a river border into Sudan, and many more are expected to flee over the coming weeks.

People are likely to be fleeing within the region too, but it’s impossible to confirm numbers as Tigray remains cut off from the rest of the country. This also means that aid supplies destined for Tigray are stuck at the regional border.

In addition to the conflict, innocent families are also facing the threat of coronavirus. We’re working to understand how we can support people who are affected the most.


The Tigray Region is the northernmost region of Ethiopia.

It is the homeland of the Tigrayan, Irob and Kunama peoples.

Tigray was already home to 100,000 internally displaced people and 96,000 refugees before this latest conflict, with high levels of food insecurity. It’s estimated that around 1.2 million people will be displaced as a result of this ongoing conflict.
Tigray was badly hit by a recent infestation of locusts which devastated crops and pasture, destroying livelihoods and leaving people with little food.

According to the UN, nearly 9 million people are at high risk due to this conflict.


We have supported over 51,000 people who have been forced from their homes by conflict in Ethiopia since 2018.

Now Tigray, a region that was already in desperate need of support, is facing a humanitarian catastrophe.  With air and road access blocked and a communications blackout, it’s difficult to know exactly how many people have been displaced – and in which direction they are most likely to flee.

We’ll be working with IOM (the International Organization for Migration), our partner in Ethiopia, to prepare supplies of emergency shelter, household essentials and hygiene items in response to the crisis in Tigray and to try to slow the spread of coronavirus.

We’ll be providing tarpaulins, rope, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, water carriers, and kitchen sets to arrive within weeks. We’re also working to be able to provide wash basins, jug, and carry sacks in later distributions.

We don’t yet know whether humanitarian access to Tigray will be granted or safe.

All aid agencies are working to position aid close to the regional border, so that vital supplies are ready to be sent into Tigray, or can support families fleeing from there, as quickly as possible.


Our projects in Ethiopia this year have supported efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

We added soap to our aid package for the last project and in future we plan to supplement that with a jug and washbasin to help people to wash their hands more easily.

Mitigations have been put in place at distributions to ensure the safety of IOM staff and the communities receiving the aid.

IOM staff have been using masks and disinfecting all material used at distributions as well as providing handwashing stations. Our partner has also included coronavirus health and prevention messaging and banners at distributions.

Finally, each distribution only involved a maximum number of 50 people, to ensure physical distancing was being followed.

How we’re responding to coronavirus


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