Operational update on Ethiopia: Shifting front lines in the north push more people to flee their homes

Operational update on Ethiopia: Shifting front lines in the north push more people to flee their homes

Tens of thousands of newly displaced people in the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions live in dire conditions after shifting front lines forced them to flee their homes in search of safety.
Article 07 September 2021 Ethiopia

Displaced people have few belongings and sleep in overcrowded shelters, schools or even out in the open, where they may be exposed to the rainy season and cold weather in high-altitude regions. Water, food, cash, fuel and power are highly scarce, and those who are displaced rely heavily on host communities, who often have few resources to spare.

"It is heartbreaking to see the trauma people suffer after they were suddenly uprooted from their homes. However, what worries me the most is that they must also cope with growing insecurity," said Nicolas Von Arx, the head of delegation of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in Ethiopia. "We call on all sides to the conflict to spare civilians from the effects of fighting and to protect health care and other vital services."

Access to health care remains a primary humanitarian concern. Following the recent fighting in the Amhara and Afar regions, health facilities supported by the ICRC have been receiving an increasing number of wounded people in the past few weeks. "The situation has become increasingly difficult, with health structures overcrowded, medical supplies not adequate or lacking, and not enough human resources to take care of patients who need an immediate surgical intervention," said Apollo Kinyokie Barasa, health coordinator for the ICRC.

Working in close cooperation with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, the ICRC has increased its presence in Amhara and Afar, delivering emergency supplies, improving shelter and sanitation for the displaced, and helping health facilities deal with the influx of wounded and other conflict-related health needs. The ICRC continues the same programmes in the Tigray region.

Since the beginning of August, the ICRC has:

  • Distributed emergency livelihood and shelter material, including blankets, lamps, kitchen sets, for 102'600 people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar.
  • Provided food assistance to 18 hospitals in Tigray, distributing flour, chickpeas and cooking oil to more than 14'500 patients, medical staff and their families.
  • Delivered medical supplies to 13 hospitals in the Amhara region, including Gondar University hospital, Sekota and Lalibela General hospitals, as well as Aykel Primary hospital, Dessie University hospital, Woldia, Debark, Dangla, Boru Meda, Kombolcha General hospitals, Mersa, Adet, Haik and Merawi Primary hospitals. These hospitals and health care centres received medical supplies and equipment such as wheelchairs and hospital beds, personal protective equipment, blankets and mattresses. The supplies are sufficient to treat over 2'000 wounded people.
  • Supported Dupti General Hospital in Semera and Ethiopian Red Cross branch with medical materials to refill ambulance first aid kits, personal protective equipment and stretchers in the Afar region.
  • Carried out infrastructure rehabilitation work at Suhul and Shiraro hospitals as well as 14 health facilities and primary health centers in Tigray.
  • Continued helping people in the Tigray region who lost contact with their family members, by offering phone calls or written messages to restore or maintain contact. In August, 4'755 calls were made by university students, hospital patients, people at risk, and 2'711 Red Cross messages were collected.
  • Provided chemicals to water treatment plants producing safe water for over 1.7 million people in Tigray.
  • Rehabilitated pumps and generators in different parts of Tigray and Amhara to provide access water.


For further information, please contact:
Fatima Sator, ICRC Addis Ababa, fsator@icrc.org M. +251944101700
Alyona Synenko, ICRC Nairobi, asynenko@icrc.org M. +254716897265