Almost 7 million people suffering in Northern Ethiopia as humanitarian catastrophe outpaces aid

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One year since the start of the conflict, almost seven million people in Tigray and in neighbouring Amhara and Afar are suffering from the toll of violence, human rights abuses, hunger, locusts and the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the conflict now spreading in Northern Ethiopia, many more vulnerable people are left without vital protection and support. The need is growing exponentially, while the aid that could save lives and head off further catastrophe falls woefully short due to restrictions on access and inadequate funding for the humanitarian response.

According to the IPC’s assessment of levels of hunger, 400,000 people in Tigray are living in famine-like conditions. While the Ethiopian government has not endorsed these findings, their own figures show that close to two million people displaced in Amhara and Afar are in urgent need of aid.

Parvin Ngala, Oxfam’s Regional Director for the Horn, East and Central Africa said:

“No matter how you measure this crisis, there is no disputing that hundreds of thousands of people are suffering in catastrophic hunger and even more are in urgent need of aid. Yet, what we have been able to provide so far is a mere drop in the ocean. Families desperately need food, clean water, shelter, and other essentials – and they also need to be able to safely return to work, have access to cash and fuel, and live in safety. There is so much more we can and must do.”

Humanitarian agencies are witnessing first-hand the human toll this crisis is taking. People who have fled their homes have shared with Oxfam harrowing stories of losing their property, cattle, and food stocks and spending days hiding out in rough terrain without food, water or shelter. Many farmers reported not being able to plant or harvest crops this year and having lost their animals due to the conflict.

The people of Ethiopia are doing all they can to support themselves and each other to survive, with communities hosting many of those who have been forced from their homes and sharing what little they have. As the conflict continues however, and resources become even more scarce, they need additional, urgent support to help them survive.

Ngala said: “As is so often the case, those already facing incredible hardships are stepping up for others in need. We need global leaders to provide the $255 million urgently needed to help humanitarian organisations respond to the crisis. We also need to see leaders, especially in the region, use their influence to push for peace.”

Oxfam has been responding to the crisis in Tigray and Amhara since November 2020 in partnership with local organizations, helping close to 85,000 people with food, clean water, health, and sanitation. Oxfam’s goal is to reach 400,000 people, but that is being hampered by the severe risks and restrictions the humanitarian community is facing.

Ngala said: “As a humanitarian organization, our focus is working with local organizations and leaders to help save lives now and to prevent future crises. We are calling on all parties to do the same – and to prioritize the lives of Ethiopians now caught in this conflict.

“Oxfam calls for all parties to deescalate the conflict and respect international law, to allow humanitarians to access the most vulnerable and to make cash, fuel, and other services available to allow the economy to recover and for the response to save lives. And above all, Oxfam calls upon all warring parties to reach a sustainable and inclusive peace before more lives are lost and this becomes yet another unheeded warning and stain on our collective conscience.”


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Notes to Editors:

Oxfam has been working in Ethiopia since the early 1970s to address the underlying causes of poverty and marginalization through supporting sustainable livelihoods, providing water, sanitation, and other humanitarian assistance, supporting agriculture, and working to addressing gender inequalities

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