What’s happening in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia?

Military confrontations broke out between federal and regional forces in Ethiopia’s Tigray region in early November 2020. The ongoing fighting and insecurity is forcing people from their homes in search of safety, food, and medicine. The government has declared this a state of emergency.

Tigray Region, Ethiopia map

Basic supplies are becoming scarce in Tigray. Health facilities have been attacked and looting is common. 

As many as 2 million people were forced to flee their homes. Since the fighting began, more than 400,000 people have been internally displaced in Ethiopia and 63,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Sudan. The UN estimates that 5.2 million people need assistance.

Current challenges Tigray refugees face

In Ethiopia

People displaced within the Tigray region are in crisis, facing food insecurity and dangerous conflict. They are at high risk for diseases like pneumonia, malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition and outbreaks like measles and cholera. COVID-19 is still on the rise.

The capacity to meet these growing health needs is diminishing. Health facilities in the Tigray region have been looted and destroyed. With 30 percent of health facilities functioning, the regional facilities lack the supplies, staff and equipment to meet the growing needs of people on the ground.

In Sudan

Refugees fleeing to Sudan endure a dangerous and long journey. They are threatened with violence and becoming separated from family.

Many refugees have fled from Tigray to Hamdayet, a town on the border in Sudan. The last hurdle they face in a long journey is crossing the Tekeze River. One side is the contested border area between Ethiopia and Sudan and Hamdayet is on the other side.

Ethiopian refugees crossing the Tekeze River in a boat. Photo by Joost Bastmeijer.
Ethiopian refugees crossing the Tekeze River to Hamdayet. Photo by Joost Bastmeijer.

Since November, an average of 847 refugees arrive to Sudan per day. Some arrive with wounds at the border. As refugee camps fill, there’s a shortage of food and medical supplies.

A crowd of Ethiopian refugees in village 8, Sudan. Photo by Joost Bastmeijer.
This refugee camp consists of small houses that have never been completely finished. It is located near a huge reservoir, and the houses in which the Ethiopian refugees now reside were built for the Sudanese who had to leave their homes due to the construction of the reservoir. Photo by Joost Bastmeijer.

Access to medical care and medical supplies is very limited in the refugee camps. There’s a high risk for diseases to spread quickly. Several deadly diseases are present, such as cholera, measles, dengue and malaria. Additionally, with the lack of food available, nutrition is a growing concern within camps.

Medical Teams’ response to Tigray conflict

In Ethiopia, we deployed an assessment team to define needs in health and nutrition in the Tigray region. Our goal is to increase access to health care by reestablishing health facilities to make them functional, with an emphasis on reproductive and child health. Additionally, partnering with World Vision Ethiopia, we sent essential medical supplies into the Tigray region of Ethiopia. This shipment included syringes, gowns and surgical packs.

In eastern Sudan, we are providing life-saving healthcare to vulnerable refugees who have crossed the border from Tigray. We plan to establish a clinic in Um Rakuba, Sudan, to provide care for people within the camp. We are working on procuring medical supplies and supporting local medical clinics and hospitals with equipment and training. Our partners in Sudan have also been doing malnutrition screenings and referred more than 200 cases so far.

How can you help?

We are trained and equipped to help people in urgent situations like the crisis in Tigray. Our team is responding to help families in need, but we can’t do it without your help. You can help rush supplies to people fleeing for safety by making a donation today.

Give Now to Help the People of Tigray