An evolving conflict erupted between the Federal Government and the Tigrayan Regional Security Forces in early November. Thousands of Ethiopians fleeing the conflict have sought refuge in Sudan, and more than 2 million have been internally displaced amid a dire humanitarian situation. Besides the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia faces widespread humanitarian needs. This is due to many and, at times, overlapping crises, often caused by inter-communal and ethnic conflicts and climatic shocks. The EU continues its longstanding humanitarian assistance to refugees and displaced communities in Ethiopia.
Due to the ongoing Tigray conflict, thousands of people are thought to have died and more than 2 million have been forced from their homes. Over 68,000 people have fled to neighbouring Sudan. In other parts of the country, outbreaks of ethnic violence and extreme weather continue to push people to flee their homes.
Close to 15% of the Ethiopian population needs emergency food assistance. In addition to rising food insecurity, including increased food prices linked to the coronavirus pandemic, Ethiopia is facing the worst desert locust infestation in 25 years.
In March 2020, Ethiopia reported the first cases of coronavirus. The pandemic adds significant pressure on an already fragile health system with limited capacity to deal with shocks. Cholera and other epidemic outbreaks remain a major public health threat, mainly due to poor living conditions, inadequate water and sanitation facilities, and poor health and hygiene practices.
There are more than 800,000 refugees in Ethiopia, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan, most of whom rely on humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs. Since 2017, around 460,000 Ethiopian migrants have been forcibly deported from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries, including many unaccompanied minors and Tigrayans.
In 2021, the European Union allocated over €85.2 million to humanitarian projects in Ethiopia, including €48 million specifically for the people affected by the conflict in northern Ethiopia. The EU supports the provision of life-saving assistance to internally displaced people uprooted by conflict or natural hazards. We provide protection, food aid, safe water, shelter, basic essential items, nutritional assistance and healthcare, disease prevention, and education.
EU humanitarian aid also contributes to helping refugees in Ethiopia. Our main actions include:
EU humanitarian funding also helps provide emergency assistance and shelter for the most vulnerable Ethiopians deported from Saudi Arabia, including unaccompanied minors.
With the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, EU-funded humanitarian projects in Ethiopia are adapting measures and adopting new ones to keep beneficiaries and staff safe while providing life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable. Actions already focusing on the health sector will continue helping local health centres in providing access to health care, and controlling and preventing epidemics. These actions are complementing ongoing efforts by the Ethiopia Ministry of Health. In addition, the EU is supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in Ethiopia in early detection and response measures.
In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. At least €14 million of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in Eastern Africa.
In response to the desert locust outbreak that has plagued the region since late 2019, the EU has mobilised a total of €74 million in humanitarian and development funding to tackle the swarms, address food shortages and provide livelihood support to pastoralists and farmers affected.
The EU is following the situation in Tigray closely and engaging with relevant stakeholders for unhindered, continuous, predictable and safe access to all affected areas, notably into Tigray. The EU is deeply concerned about the protection of Tigray’s population, as well as of the 96,000 Eritrean refugees in the Tigray region.
The EU stresses that it is essential to provide unconditional, unhindered, safe, and urgent access for humanitarian aid and aid workers to assist people in need in all affected areas, in line with the fundamental humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, and operational independence.
In September 2021, and in response to the worsening humanitarian situation in Tigray, the EU activated a Humanitarian Air Bridge set of operations, carrying life-saving cargo for the people affected by the conflict in Tigray. Two flights have been operated to Mekelle, Tigray, carrying 15 tons of nutrition supplies and humanitarian supplies for hospitals.
Since the beginning of the crisis in northern Ethiopia in November 2020, the EU has provided €70 million in humanitarian funding for the people affected by the conflict, including support given to Ethiopian refugees in Sudan.