Updated 9/9/2021

Famine is a high concern for the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. As a result of the conflict, some five million people are estimated to be in need of food aid and perhaps 900 000 are already starving. Violence, looting and insecurity hinders access to health and education. Some 70 hospitals have been occupied, vehicles have been stopped and aid agencies generally face difficulties in reaching displaced and other people in need. The recent ceasefire may offer opportunities for aid agencies to deliver much needed aid.

Yet, the conflict in Tigray has also been extremely dangerous for aid workers. To date, the conflict has killed at least 12 aid workers, and the brutal murder of three MSF workers has increased challenges for aid agencies of how to ensure safe access for their staff. Successful humanitarian interventions require a nuanced and objective understanding of the contextual ecosystems to ensure that complex security contexts do not create unsurmountable access concerns that leave people in need without much needed aid.

Our Situation Report series provides regular updates of the changing context.

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Aid in Danger

During 2020 there was a deterioration of humanitarian access due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a political crisis, and conflict in Tigray. Till date, humanitarian organisations continue to be denied or delayed access to many conflict-affected regions and communication blackouts persist in some areas. Ethiopian aid workers have been killed whilst others remain unaccounted for in Tigray region. Data on threats and violence affecting aid operations Aid workers have also been arrested. Data on aid workers killed, kidnapped and arrested globally

For the latest analysis on the current situation in Ethiopia read Vigil Insight’s Situation Report above.

Sexual Violence

Reports of systematic sexual violence by conflict parties have been reported during the Tigray conflict. Tigrayan women were raped at gunpoint and forced to have sex with other family members or in exchange for basic commodities. In some cases, their family members were made to watch. In other cases, women were taken to an Eritrean military camp and repeatedly raped by Eritrean soldiers.

Women and girls in refugee camps in the region were particularly targeted. Witnesses to these incidents were threatened and warned against identifying perpetrators or reporting the incidents. Data


In 2020 schools and teachers were harmed amidst violence in Oromio, Benishangul-Gumuz, and Tigray regions. Schools associated with ethnic Amhara residents were burnt down and ethnic Amhara students were attacked by Oromo youth organizations during the June protests in Oromio against the assassination of a prominent Oromo artist.

Teachers were shot and killed by police and federal forces for allegedly organising demonstrations. Schools were used by armed militiamen and opposition forces to execute civilians in Oromio and Benishangul-Gumuz regions.

Schools were damaged by Ethiopian National Defence forces airstrikes and set on fire by conflict parties in Tigray. Data

IDPs and Refugees

In 2020, in Tigray region humanitarian organisations were denied or delayed access to many conflict-affected regions. Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps in the north were deliberately attacked and refugees were abducted and killed. Infrastructures inside the camps were also burnt down. There were also claims of refugees being forced back into Eritrea by Eritrean forces have been reported.

During 2021, although there have been temporary and intermittent improvements in humanitarian access, this is insufficient to reach all people in need. IDPs have reportedly starved to death, amid mounting evidence of an impending famine in the region. People inside IDP camps were also detained and physically assaulted by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers. Data