One year since conflict broke out in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, almost seven million people there and in neighboring Amhara and Afar are reeling from the combined toll of violence, human rights abuses, hunger, locusts, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the conflict now spreading in Northern Ethiopia, many more vulnerable people are left without vital protections and resources. The need is growing exponentially, while the aid that could save lives and head off further catastrophe falls woefully short due to access restrictions and inadequate funding for the response.
According to the IPC’s food security figures, 400,000 people in Tigray are living in famine-like conditions. While the Ethiopian government has not endorsed these findings, their own figures show that close to 2 million people displaced in Amhara and Afar are in urgent need of aid.
Parvin Ngala, Oxfam’s Regional Director for the Horn, East and Central Africa said, “No matter how you measure this crisis, there is no disputing that hundreds of thousands of people are suffering in catastrophic hunger and even more are in urgent need of aid. Yet, what we have been able to provide so far is a mere drop in the ocean. Families desperately need food, clean water, shelter, and other essentials – and they also need to be able to safely return to work, have access to cash and fuel, and live in safety. There is so much more we can and must do, and we are committed. Now we also need a commitment from all parties to allow unfettered humanitarian access and the tools for the response, and the economy to recover.”
Humanitarians are witnessing first-hand the human toll this crisis is taking. People who have fled their homes have shared with Oxfam harrowing stories of losing their property, cattle, and food stocks and spending days hiding out in rough terrain without food, water, or shelter. Many farmers reported not being able to plant or harvest crops this year and having lost their animals due to the conflict.
The people of Ethiopia are doing all they can to support themselves and each other to survive, with communities hosting many of those who have been forced from their homes and sharing what little they have. As the conflict continues however, and resources become even more scarce, they need additional, urgent support now to meet their most basic needs.
“As is so often the case, those already facing incredible hardships are stepping up for others in need. We need global leaders to step up and provide the $255 million still urgently needed to help humanitarian organisations respond to the crisis. We also need to see leaders, especially in the region, use their influence to push for peace,” Oxfam’s Ngala said.
Oxfam has been responding to the crisis in Tigray and Amhara since November 2020 in partnership with local organizations, reaching close to 85,000 people with food, clean water, health, and sanitation services. Oxfam’s goal is to reach 400,000 people total, but that is being hampered by the severe risks and restrictions the humanitarian community is facing.
“As a humanitarian organization, our focus is working with local organizations and leaders to help save lives now and to prevent future crises. We are calling on all parties to do the same – and to prioritize the lives of Ethiopians now caught in this conflict,” added Ngala.
“Oxfam calls for all parties to deescalate the conflict and respect international law, to allow humanitarians to access the most vulnerable and to make cash, fuel, and other services available to allow the economy to recover and for the response to save lives. And above all, Oxfam calls upon all warring parties to reach a sustainable and inclusive peace before more lives are lost and this becomes yet another unheeded warning and stain on our collective conscience.”
Notes to Editors:
- IPC food security data, often cited by the UN, can be found here: http://www.ipcinfo.org/ipc-country-analysis/details-map/en/c/1154897/
- Ethiopian Government assessments referenced: Transcript | Prime Minister’s Office Press Briefing – 26 August 2021 | Embassy of Ethiopia, London (ethioembassy.org.uk)
- 2 million people in need of food assistance https://reports.unocha.org/en/country/ethiopia/
- 7 million people are facing emergency levels of hunger in Afar and Amhara regions: https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/wfp-completes-first-round-food-distributions-afar-and-amhara-still-lacks-necessary
- Oxfam has been partnering with local organizations to deliver urgent aid including clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene, food, and more. We have reached nearly 85,000 people and aim to reach over 400,000 people.
- Oxfam has been working in Ethiopia since the early 1970s to address the underlying causes of poverty and marginalization through supporting sustainable livelihoods, providing water, sanitation, and other humanitarian assistance, supporting agriculture, and working to addressing gender inequalities.