The IRC is extremely concerned about the humanitarian implications of escalating violence in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where over 2 million people are already in need of humanitarian assistance including 96,000 refugees and 100,000 internally displaced people. The IRC are calling for immediate de-escalation by all parties involved to ensure humanitarian services can continue unfettered. 

Further clashes could lead to massive loss of lives, prolonged displacement, disease outbreaks and no access to social services for the most vulnerable populations, particularly those living in refugee camps. Ethiopia is already reeling from a year of multiple humanitarian disasters. 

George Readings, IRC Lead Global Crisis Analyst said,

“ An escalation of violence in the Tigray region could have a devastating impact on the people we serve.  We are currently supporting 90,000 refugees in four camps in Tigray and are concerned about disruptions to essential water, sanitation and hygiene services and the potential need for life saving emergency assistance if violence escalates.  

“With communications, transport services and networks down, our operations have already been affected. We’ve had to relocate staff from one of our camps and we only have one month of fuel left to run water pumps for 90,000 refugees in Tigray. We’re hoping tensions don’t escalate but are looking at ways to adapt our programming to ensure the continuation of services to the most vulnerable. ”

Experts have warned of a potential 100,000 people fleeing over the border to Sudan, which is already struggling under the strain of almost 1 million refugees and where flooding, locust outbreaks, poor economic conditions over several years and the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in 9.3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

The IRC urges all parties to consider the humanitarian situation and de-escalate immediately. The needs and safety of civilians, including refugees and displaced persons, must be prioritised.