Dramatic increase in internally displaced people in the Tigray region

Tents in a refugee camp Tents in a refugee camp Photo by Claudiad on iStock

26 March 2021

Thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled refugee camps in northern Ethiopia, destroyed by continued attacks in the region.

 On Friday, 26 March, in a joint mission, humanitarian workers from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) gained access to refugee camps in the Tigray region for the first time since the fighting began. UNHCR spokesman Boris Cheshirkov reported on the dramatic living conditions of those who fled the refugee camps destroyed during the conflict, stressing the need for action to provide life-saving assistance to thousands of civilians scattered across the country.

Since November 2020, the Tigray region, located in northern Ethiopia, has been the scene of conflict between the federal government, and the region's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). According to UNHCR estimates, before the outbreak of the crisis in Tigray, about 20,000 refugees were hosted in the Hitsats and Shimelba camps. To date, the humanitarian organization reported that of these, about 7,000 have reached the Eritrean refugee camps of Mai Aini and Adi Harush, while another 2,000 have found refuge in the cities of Shire, Mekelle, Afar and Addis Ababa. The humanitarian situation in the country is worrying, emergency shelters are not sufficient, especially in view of an increased flow of internally displaced persons, coinciding with the upcoming rainy season.

The UNHCR has requested more funding to continue responding to the ongoing emergency in Ethiopia. The organization also reiterated its appeal to the conflicting parties to ensure the “free and safe” movement of all affected civilians in search of safety and assistance.



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Author: Francesca Mencuccini; Editor: Carla Leonetti

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