Report highlights severe deterioration in international efforts to protect the most vulnerable
by Norwegian Refugee Council, UNHCR, agencies
A new report reveals a severe deterioration in international efforts to protect the world’s most vulnerable people, with human rights violations including gender-based violence, trafficking and child recruitment on the rise.
The report released by the Norwegian Refugee Council and the UNHCR, UN Refugee Agency-led Global Protection Cluster (GPC) finds that millions of people internally displaced or affected by conflict could be missing out on humanitarian protection support due to insufficient funding.
GPC data indicates that of the 54 million people targeted for assistance in 26 humanitarian response plans, almost 40 million could be missing out this year.
“The human toll of the pandemic on the world’s vulnerable should not only be measured by the number of lives it has taken, but by the eclipsing number it has shattered. Covid-19 has hardest hit millions of people with absolutely no access to protection services. Children recruited by armies cannot reclaim lost childhoods. Women raped and beaten wear their scars for life,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Gender-based violence has increased dramatically since the onset of Covid-19. Experts projected in April that for every three months lockdown measures continued around the world, an additional 15 million women and girls would be exposed to gender-based violence.
In Mali, over 4,400 cases of gender-based violence were reported between January and September, but only 48 per cent of towns had support services.
In the Central African Republic (CAR), reported incidents of gender-based violence more than doubled, including rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage. CAR was already one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman or girl.
In Niger, reports have been received of women being tortured for engaging in economic activity outside of the home, and not wearing full veil coverings.
Child marriages are also on the rise. Thirteen million more underage marriages could occur over the next 10 years because of the side effects of the pandemic, according to UN estimates.
Trafficking is also a concern, with protection aid workers in 66 per cent of the countries surveyed reporting that people are at increased risk of trafficking due to Covid-19.
An increase in violence and armed conflict has also been recorded, with attacks on civilians increasing by 2.5 per cent since the pandemic began. For example, over 1,800 violent events involving communal armed groups have been registered since the start of the pandemic - a 70 per cent increase - largely across East and West Africa.
“COVID-19 is inflicting an unprecedented human rights crisis for the world’s most vulnerable. Millions of internally displaced and conflict-affected people are in harm’s way or are falling through the gaps,” said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs.
“The world cannot afford to be complacent and indifferent to their plight. Millions of lives are at stake. Humanitarians can only do so much. Armed conflict continues to be the main driver of forced displacement, so peace is indispensable to end conflict and suffering.”
According to the report, the gap between protection needs during the pandemic and protection funding is growing wider. This year’s funding for protecting people most in need of assistance in humanitarian crises has received just 25 per cent of what is needed.
Furthermore, historically nearly 70 per cent of funding for protection services comes from just five donors; the European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, the United Nations and the United States.
“As we enter the new year, the aftershocks of 2020 will begin to take hold. As our report shows, more funding is needed not only to save lives and heal wounds, but also to effectively prevent new outrageous abuse and violence from taking place,” warned Jan Egeland.
Facts and figures:
In 2020, 54 million people were targeted for protection assistance in Humanitarian Response Plans, including Covid-19 additional plans, across 26 operations where the Protection Cluster is active. This number does not include countries without a Humanitarian Response Plan, Refugee Response Plan as the data is not yet available for 2020. The real number will be much higher.
Between 2013 and 2019, the protection sector received only 38 per cent of its requirements compared with 61 per cent overall for humanitarian appeals. In 2020, only 24 per cent of requirements had been met by November.
In Mali, 66 per cent of gender-based violence survivors reported since January are girls under 18 years old.
Northern Mozambique is one of the fastest growing protection crises in the world. In November, civilians witnessed massacres by non-state armed groups in several villages, which resulted in beheadings and abductions of women and children.
In Yemen, it is estimated that more than two thirds of girls are married before they reach 18 years of age, compared to 50 per cent before the conflict.
Funding for protection in Cameroon in 2020 has fallen wildly short of what is needed. Only 13 per cent of requirements have been received so far, which is just $3 per person. This has left more than 2 million people without assistance.
According to the UN Population Fund, 48 per cent of Venezuelan women on the move are travelling alone, putting them at serious risk for human trafficking and all forms of gender-based violence.
COVID-19 Vaccine: Ensuring that people affected by armed conflict are not forgotten. (ICRC)
As vaccines for COVID-19 become available, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hopes to ensure that people affected by conflict and violence who might otherwise be forced to the back of the line or forgotten all-together also have equitable access to the vaccine.
For people living in conflict areas, access to basic health services is often challenging or impossible. These populations are just as vulnerable to COVID-19 and deserve to be protected from this severe health menace. In addition, the ICRC estimates that more than 60 million people live in areas controlled by non-state armed groups who risk not being included in national vaccine distribution frameworks.
Marginalised communities, including internally displaced persons, migrants, asylum seekers and detainees, must also be included in national vaccination programmes and be recognized as people in need of the health protections the vaccine will provide.
"Health workers or someone with a compromised immune system in regions affected by armed conflict endure the double burden of conflict and COVID in often-forgotten and neglected areas. We believe that people there should have the same right and access to the vaccine as others do," said Robert Mardini, ICRC's director-general.
In conflict settings, poor health capacities due to the breakdown or destruction of health services, lack of health personnel, precarious infrastructure and disputed borders might hamper vaccine distribution.
Reaching front-lines and areas controlled by non-state armed groups brings complications such as difficult logistics, the need for travel permissions and reduced availability of electricity and refrigeration. Restrictive measures and sanctions may impede access to these areas.
Together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the ICRC will support Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies as they have a leading role in carrying out vaccination programs and distributing the COVID vaccine in their respective countries.
The ICRC is ready to support national vaccination campaigns and facilitate access to the COVID-19 vaccine by populations in countries affected by armed conflict and violence. Also, the ICRC is ready to use its privileged position and offer its services as a neutral intermediary to ensure access to the vaccine for people living in conflict zones, in areas not under governmental control and in places of detention. Excluding these populations from a COVID-19 vaccine presents a clear risk since no one will be safe until everyone is safe.
The ICRC asks that: States ensure the inclusion of populations in humanitarian settings in national vaccination frameworks. Parties to conflict give access to the vaccine to populations under their control and facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations and of the health personnel in charge of vaccinations, in accordance with their legal obligations, including under international humanitarian law.
States support Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, which have a key role in COVID-19 vaccination. States maintain and strengthen routine immunizations and essential health services.
Measles and polio campaigns have been suspended in dozens of countries, and at least 80 million children under age 1 are at risk of diseases with significant mortality such as measles, diphtheria and polio. Whilst a COVID vaccine is urgent, other vaccines are also most needed and must be provided.
Community members, Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers and religious and community leaders should be invited to help design and implement vaccine mobilisation plans. Engaging communities and providing them with accurate information will be critical for the success of COVID-19 vaccination programs and the safety of health personnel.
"Together with our Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners, the ICRC is ready to contribute to the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, especially in areas affected by conflict and 'last-mile' areas along the frontlines, as well as in places of detention," said Mr. Mardini. "We will also prioritize routine vaccinations and work to provide reliable information about vaccines."
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The UN estimates 2.3 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Tigray
by HRW, ICRC, Reliefweb, agencies
7 Jan. 2021 (OCHA)
While the UN, along with its humanitarian partners, has been able to access areas in Tigray, Ethiopia, previously inaccessible, particularly in cities, localized ﬁghting and insecurity continues, with ﬁghting reported in rural areas and around Mekelle, Shiraro and Shire, as of last week.
Access to most parts of north-western, eastern and central Tigray remains constrained due to the ongoing insecurity and bureaucratic hurdles. Two of the four refugee camps in the region (Hitsats and Shimelba) are still not accessible.
OCHA and the Logistics Cluster, led by WFP, continue to closely work with the relevant authorities to streamline the assessment and cargo clearance mechanism, enabling a 48 hour clearance process, and ensuring safe and secure access to Tigray and bordering areas in Amhara and Afar regions.
As of 4 January, 61 per cent of cargo and mission requests have been cleared, but the clearance process took between 5 and 10 days. In some cases, partners could not travel to Tigray due to additional bureaucratic constraints at regional and local levels, despite clearance received from federal authorities.
The UN estimates that 2.3 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Tigray, including 1.3 million additional people due to the conﬂict and more than 950,000 existing people, including refugees.
While the UN continues to seek full and unhindered access, it has shared its best estimation of people in need based on data collected pre-conflict and during conflict.
The UN continues to assess the situation and these figures are likely to evolve in the coming period as further information becomes available and teams are able to access more locations to verify the situation on the ground.
http://www.unocha.org/story/daily-noon-briefing-highlights-ethiopia-9 http://reports.unocha.org/en/country/ethiopia http://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/horn-africa/ethiopia/167-finding-path-peace-ethiopias-tigray-region
7 Dec. 2020
The humanitarian situation in Tigray continues to deteriorate rapidly, one month on since the conflict began in early November. Although verification of the full extent of the crisis is still challenging due to telecommunication blackouts and lack of access, humanitarians on the ground have reported critical shortages of the most basic commodities, including food and water, affecting the whole region, the refugee camps and aid workers living in Tigray.
Humanitarian needs have reportedly further increased following the recent clashes in the capital Mekelle.
The situation in the refugee camps is reportedly dire, and UNHCR is appealing to the Federal authorities in Ethiopia for urgent access in order to reach Eritrean refugees who are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and services, as the camps have run out of food supplies.
Partners have called for the immediate reinstatement of cash transfers and access to fuel and food distributions across Tigray and health commodities, particularly in Mekelle.
Humanitarian actors have warned of a risk of water-and vector borne diseases due to the lack of access to clean water and sanitation services, majority of which were reportedly destroyed during the conflict. Health partners have raised concerns over the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 infections in the affected areas, which was already reporting a high caseload prior to the conflict.
As people flee in large numbers, there are fears that the risk of transmission will increase, including to areas of displacement as people live in crowded places with lack of access to health care and prevention measures. Routine medical and health services, including testing and risk communication and sensitization campaigns for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 remain interrupted in the region since the start of the conflict.
Health care facilities in Tigray region need support to care for the wounded, and hospitals are also running out of drugs and supplies for routine medical issues.
The conflict continues to push people from their homes, with reports of many displaced across Tigray and some fleeing towards Afar and Amhara.
At least 850,000 people were in need of humanitarian aid before the conflict, with now an additional 1.1 million people projected to need aid.
http://reports.unocha.org/en/country/ethiopia http://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/virtual-library/official-statements/joint-statement-on-the-protection-of-children-affected-by-the-unfolding-situation-in-the-tigray-region-ethiopia/ http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26583&LangID=E http://news.un.org/en/tags/ethiopia
29. Nov. 2020
UN calls for humanitarian access to Tigray.
The head of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said Sunday he hoped humanitarian access to Ethiopia's northern Tigray region would be granted soon by national authorities.
"It is not possible yet, so I hope it will develop in the next few days," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told a press conference from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared an end to a military operation in Tigray on Saturday after the army took control of the regional capital of Mekele, after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces reportedly withdrew from the regional capital to spare the civilian population from bombardment.
Grandi said Ethiopia's announcement that it had ended its military offensive "does not mean the conflict is finished."
Claims from both sides are difficult to verify as phone and internet links to the region have been down and access tightly controlled.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed and many more displaced since the fighting began more than three weeks ago and there are still fears the conflict may destabilise the wider Horn of Africa region.
The UN and its humanitarian partners are deeply concerned about the plight of civilians in the Tigray region, especially in its capital, Mekelle, following the latest developments reported in the city, reports the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid.
Even before the recent fighting began, civilians in Mekelle, which is home to nearly half a million people, had endured weeks of fuel, cash and basic commodities shortages. Civilian infrastructure had also been damaged. There are also reports of critical shortages of medical supplies in Mekelle and across the Tigray region needed to treat people injured during the clashes.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that hospitals in Mekele are running "dangerously low" on supplies to care for the wounded. It said a referral hospital in the city is lacking basic supplies such as gloves.
"The influx of wounded forced the hospital to suspend many other medical services so that limited staff and resources could be devoted to emergency medical care," the ICRC said in a statement.
Humanitarians report that affected people have been forced to rely on untreated water to survive following the damage and destruction of water infrastructure.
They say it is critical that essential supplies and services are restored immediately in Mekelle and across the Tigray region.
The UN and humanitarian partners also acknowledge the Federal Government’s stated commitment to ensure that humanitarian assistance is made available to impacted people, and calls for unconditional, full and immediate humanitarian access to reach people in need in Mekelle and across the Tigray Region.
The conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region continues to displace people within the country and towards Sudan. In Sudan, humanitarians are reporting complex logistical and operational response challenges. Nearly 45,500 people are now seeking refuge in the country, most of them children.
Mr. Grandi said he is also very concerned about the fate of nearly 100,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray amid reports that some have been abducted.
23 Nov. 2020
UN ‘extremely concerned’ for safety of Tigray civilians in regional capital, as refugee numbers grow. (UN News)
The UN on Monday said it was “extremely concerned” over the safety of civilians across Ethiopia’s Tigray region, as fighting between Government troops and those loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) reportedly continued, with the Ethiopian Prime Minister having called on opposition forces to surrender the capital Mekelle, by Wednesday.
Due to a near total communications blackout across Tigray, establishing facts on the ground is proving difficult, but UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told correspondents at UN Headquarters that more than half a million people remain in Mekelle “following information that fighting might move into the city in the coming hours.”
The TPLF was formerly the dominant political party of government in Ethiopia, losing out at the ballot box in 2018, when Abiy Amed won the prime ministership that April, forming a ruling coalition that the TPLF reportedly declined to join.
“The UN and its humanitarian partners in Ethiopia are urgently calling on all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including health facilities, and water systems”, added Mr. Dujarric.
Humanitarian colleagues are stressing that it is urgent that all parties to the conflict enable the free and safe movement of civilians fleeing in search of safety and assistance, “including across international and within national borders, regardless of their ethnic identification”, he said.
Nearly 39,000 people have now fled across the border into neighbouring Sudan, including 17,000 children.
A majority of the relocated refugees are women and children: “I have seen men are slaughtered in front of my own eyes. I cannot forget that”, one young woman told UNFPA officials in the southeast Sudanese camp at Um Raquba, during a needs assessment in the past few days.
“I ran from home when the gunfire was going off. I still don’t know where my father and brothers are.”
Many of the women and girls are fearful for their safety. Vulnerability to gender-based violence often increases during humanitarian crises. Women’s reproductive health needs are also dangerously unmet. The nearest referral health facility able to provide post-rape treatment or emergency obstetric care is about 40 minutes from Um Raquba.
“One woman lost her baby after nine months of pregnancy due to a lack of services”, said Massimo Diana, UNFPA’s Representative in Sudan. The woman had arrived at the health centre too late to deliver safely. “No woman should have to go through this, and we are working to ensure services are available to save lives”, he added.
23 Nov. 2020 (Associated Press)
Ethiopia’s military is warning civilians in the besieged Tigray regional capital that there will be “no mercy” if they don’t “save themselves” before a final offensive to flush out defiant regional leaders — a threat that Human Rights Watch on Sunday said could violate international law.
“From now on, the fighting will be a tank battle,” spokesman Col. Dejene Tsegaye said late Saturday, asserting that the army was marching on the Tigray capital, Mekele, and would encircle it with tanks. “Our people in Mekele should be notified that they should protect themselves from heavy artillery.”
He accused the Tigray leaders of hiding among the population of the city of roughly a half-million people and warned civilians to “steer away” from them.
But “treating a whole city as a military target would not only unlawful, it could also be considered a form of collective punishment,” Human Rights Watch researcher Laetitia Bader tweeted Sunday. “In other words, war crimes,” former U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice tweeted.
Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, in a new statement is giving the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front 72 hours to surrender, saying that “you are at a point of no return.”
For days, Abiy’s government has asserted it was marching to Mekele in a final push to end the deadly conflict that erupted on Nov. 4 between the federal government and the heavily armed Tigray regional government. The TPLF dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition for a quarter century before Abiy took office and sidelined TPLF leaders.
Now, each side regards each other as illegal, complicating international pleas for dialogue amid worries that one of Africa’s most populous nations could fracture and destabilize the strategic Horn of Africa.
With communications and transport to the Tigray region almost completely severed, it’s difficult to verify the warring sides’ claims.
Meanwhile, a vast humanitarian crisis is unfolding, with the United Nations saying about 2 million people in Tigray urgently need help as food, fuel, medical and other supplies run desperately short.
Two refugee crises are growing. Over 35,000 Ethiopians have fled into a remote area of Sudan, where local communities and humanitarians have struggled to feed and accommodate them. And inside the Tigray region, the fighting has come close to camps that are home to nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea. Some of the Eritreans have now fled a second time, into Sudan. http://bit.ly/376GHNY
http://www.icrc.org/en/document/waging-war-cities-deadly-choice http://www.icrc.org/en/where-we-work/africa/ethiopia http://www.icrc.org/eng/war-and-law/protected-persons/civilians/overview-civilians-protected.htm http://guide-humanitarian-law.org/content/article/3/civilians/ http://guide-humanitarian-law.org/content/index/ http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/ProtectionOfCivilianPersons.aspx http://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/vwTreaties1949.xsp http://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_rul http://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/ http://www.safeguardinghealth.org/ http://www.protectingeducation.org/
* Agenda for Humanity: Respect the Rules of War: http://bit.ly/2EiXwpt
* Report of the UN Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict: http://bit.ly/2q9Dk6x
13 Nov 2020
Amid emerging reports of mass killings in the town of Mai-Kadra, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has expressed increasing alarm at the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Ethiopian region of Tigray.
She warned that if the Tigray regional forces and Ethiopian Government forces continue down the path they are on “there is a risk this situation will spiral totally out of control, leading to heavy casualties and destruction, as well as mass displacement within Ethiopia itself and across borders.. “The first priority right now must be to stop the fighting and prevent any further atrocities from taking place.”
The UN Human Rights Chief said that despite the severing of communications with Tigray making it difficult to verify the extent of the damage so far, she had received reports from a variety of sources suggesting increased airstrikes by Government forces as well as fierce ground fighting between the opposing forces.
“I am also extremely alarmed at reports of cuts to essential water and electricity supplies, in addition to the communications blackout and blocking of access by road and air,” she said. “This means there is already a dramatic impact on the civilian population, in addition to the risk of death or injury as a result of hostilities.”
The UN Human Rights Chief repeated her 6 November appeal to both sides to begin talks with the aim of an immediate cessation of hostilities.
“I strongly urge both sides to realize that there will be no winner in such a situation and begin a serious dialogue to resolve their differences without delay,” Bachelet said. “A protracted internal conflict will inflict devastating damage on both Tigray and Ethiopia as a whole, undoing years of vital development progress. It could, in addition, all too easily spill across borders, potentially destabilizing the whole sub-region.” http://bit.ly/360AvYO
Ethiopia: Protect People as Tigray Crisis Escalates. (Human Rights Watch)
Early on November 4, 2020, the Ethiopian government began military operations in Tigray, one of the country’s semi-autonomous regions, in what Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said was a response to an attack on a federal military base by the ruling party in the region, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
“Tight restrictions on access for aid agencies and communications mean that millions of people in Tigray affected by the fighting may be at grave risk,” said Laetitia Bader, Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Federal and regional authorities should respect the right to life and take all necessary measures to assist and protect the population.”
The fighting follows a year of growing tensions between the federal government and the Tigray authorities. The situation worsened after the federal government reconfigured the ruling coalition, which was responsible for serious human rights abuses, into a single party and postponed highly anticipated national elections, citing Covid-19-related health risks.
Several opposition parties condemned the decision, including the TPLF, which held its own regional elections in September, in defiance of the federal government’s decision.
Following the alleged attack on the federal military base, phone and internet communications were swiftly cut in the region, and the federal government soon after announced a round of airstrikes in areas around the regional capital, Mekelle.
By November 10, more than 14,000 Ethiopian refugees, half of whom were children, had crossed the border into Sudan – a number humanitarian agencies expect will swell in the coming days if the fighting continues.
Hundreds of people were also reportedly killed and injured on November 9 in an incident around Mai Kadra, in western Tigray where much of the fighting has occurred.
Authorities on both sides need to protect the population from the fighting, facilitate immediate and unhindered access to health and aid workers to help all those in need, and conduct an impartial investigation into the incident, Human Rights Watch said.
Six humanitarian agencies reported that the movement restrictions and the communication shutdown were significantly hampering their activities, including tending to those wounded and killed in the fighting.
Access into Tigray is blocked, including by road and air, while the border with Sudan remains partially closed, based on reports by the media and humanitarian agencies. Prior to the outbreak of fighting, reports highlighted that food and fuel were already in short supply, with over 600,000 people relying on food aid to survive.
The region is also home to 100,000 internally displaced people and 96,000 Eritrean refugees. Nearly 44 percent of those living in refugee camps are children.
Humanitarian reports on the situation in Tigray also highlight that the closure of banks and restrictions on essential goods such as food, water, fuel, electricity, and medical supplies risk compounding the suffering of a population already in need.
Under international human rights law, the Ethiopian government bears the primary responsibility to meet the needs of people on its territory. Lifting broad restrictions on services and granting humanitarian agencies access is essential to provide necessary aid to affected populations and avert a looming humanitarian crisis, Human Rights Watch said. The Tigray regional authorities are also responsible for addressing the needs of people under their effective control.
While the phone and internet shutdown has made it difficult for journalists and aid workers to document and confirm reports of the situation on the ground, Ethiopians outside the region have also been cut off from their relatives in Tigray.
Under Abiy’s administration, phone and network shutdowns have become routine during social and political unrest, including in the Oromia region, where the government has engaged in counterinsurgency operations within the last year. The current military action follows recurrent episodes of violence and unrest that have flared up throughout the country since 2018, leading to the displacement of nearly two million people since the start of 2020 alone.
http://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/ethiopia-protect-people-tigray-crisis-escalates http://www.unhcr.org/news/briefing/2020/11/5fb391214/pace-ethiopian-refugee-arrivals-sudan-unseen-decades.html http://theconversation.com/ethiopias-tigray-region-has-seen-famine-before-why-it-could-happen-again-150181
12 Nov. 2020 (UN News)
With the fighting between Ethiopian federal forces and Tigray regional security forces coming into its first week, there is increasing concern for the protection of civilians. There are reports of civilian movement in search of protection within Tigray region as well as to the neighbouring Amhara region. Details are not known yet.
The UN is also alarmed by the already large number of Ethiopian asylum seekers who have crossed into Sudan fleeing the hostilities in Tigray or out of fear of attack.
The UN and humanitarian partners call for full access to reach people in need; to conduct needs assessments; to allow safe passage for civilians in search of safety and assistance; and to guarantee the security of aid workers.
In addition to concerns over disrupted humanitarian assistances to more than 2 million people in Tigray region, there is also rising concern over the inability to assess additional humanitarian needs that are likely to spike.
Priority needs in the region include protection of civilians and children, gender-based violence, refugee response, food and cash assistance, health and water, sanitation and hygiene.
The UN calls on federal and regional authorities to enable humanitarian access to reach people in need in areas under their respective control.
Hundreds killed as Ethiopia edges towards civil war, report from Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
On 4 November Ethiopia’s federal government launched a military offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in the northern Tigray region. Hundreds of people have been killed in the resulting fighting. Critical humanitarian aid is struggling to reach up to 2 million people, including almost 200,000 internally displaced persons and refugees.
The federal government alleges that their military offensive was launched after the TPLF attacked a military base in the region, which the TPLF deny. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stated the offensive has “clear, limited and achievable objectives” and has resisted international calls to end the fighting.
The TPLF controlled Ethiopia’s government for 27 years until a mass protest movement that eventually led to the appointment of Prime Minister Abiy in 2018. Tensions have been rising between the federal government and the TPLF since the postponement of federal elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Accusing Prime Minister Abiy of trying to illegally extend his rule, the TPLF held regional elections on 9 September which the federal government deemed illegitimate.
The offensive in Tigray comes at a time when ethnically-based attacks are on the rise throughout the country. On 1 November at least 54 ethnic Amhara civilians were killed by an armed group in West Welega Zone in the Oromia region, after federal forces abruptly left the area. An armed militia also killed up to 140 civilians in the Metakal Zone of Benishangul-Gumuz region during September.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned that, “unaddressed, such violence only leaves desolation, feeds revenge and leads to further intercommunal clashes and to more casualties and displacement in the country.”
With more than 1.8 million people already displaced as a result of ongoing insecurity, many Ethiopians remain deeply distrustful of state authorities. Some populations also feel marginalized by Ethiopia’s federalist system of government and allege that it has resulted in ethnic favoritism and discrimination.
Federal government forces and the TPLF should work to resolve the political crisis through peaceful means. The Ethiopian government must confront the underlying sources of conflict in the country and implement reforms to protect human rights and guarantee equal access to government services and resources. All military operations should be conducted in strict adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law.
6 Nov. 2020 (ICRC)
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) calls on those taking part in clashes in northern Ethiopia to respect people’s lives and property as well as their access to timely medical care and assistance.
"We are deeply concerned that a military escalation in northern Ethiopia could trigger a wider humanitarian emergency in which people are displaced from their homes and unable to meet their basic needs," said Katia Sorin, the head of delegation for the ICRC in Ethiopia. "This can be averted if people's lives and property are protected and respected."
The ICRC is closely following developments and stands ready to provide humanitarian assistance as needed. Its partner, the Ethiopia Red Cross Society, is one of the main ambulance providers in the area. "Unimpeded access for Red Cross ambulances and teams to the wounded and those in need will be crucial if clashes escalate," said Katia Sorin.
The present military action in northern Ethiopia come on top of recurrent episodes of violence that have flared around the country. Many people have been killed, injured, and displaced in different parts of Ethiopia.
The ICRC has long had a presence in northern Ethiopia to help those impacted by different situations of violence. This includes ensuring people have access to water and sanitation facilities, distributing essential household items, and providing cash assistance.
It is also responding to needs created by violence in other parts of the country, such as Oromia, Benshangul-Gumuz, Amhara and Somali Regional State.
http://www.icrc.org/en/document/ethiopia-icrc-calls-respect-peoples-lives-and-property-amidst-escalating-tensions-tigray http://www.france24.com/en/tag/ethiopia/ http://mg.co.za/africa/2020-11-10-ethiopia-is-about-to-cross-the-point-of-no-return/ http://bit.ly/36DC51B http://www.dw.com/en/ethiopian-pm-at-war-with-tigray/a-55553939 http://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/11/ethiopia-investigation-reveals-evidence-that-scores-of-civilians-were-killed-in-massacre-in-tigray-state/ http://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/horn-africa/ethiopia/ethiopia-not-too-late-stop-tigray-conflict-unravelling-country http://reliefweb.int/country/eth
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