Ethiopia is a landlocked country in northeastern Africa. Its national capital is Addis Ababa. Located in the Horn of Africa, the country borders Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti. Ethiopia covers an area of 1,104,300 square kilometers. In 2022, the country had an estimated population of about 113.7 million people, making it the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria.
The humanitarian situation
The overall humanitarian situation in Ethiopia has deteriorated significantly in 2022. Millions of Ethiopians remain displaced by conflict, insecurity, and climate-related shocks such as the ongoing drought. Ethiopia faces multiple causes of instability. Years of drought and conflict have left millions of Ethiopians without enough to eat. Many people have no water, medicine, food or shelter and fear for their lives.
Between August and November 2022, fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray region escalated and had a devastating impact on civilians in an already dire humanitarian situation. According to the United Nations, indiscriminate attacks in the war zone killed civilians, damaged critical infrastructure and limited access to vital services. Hundreds of thousands of people in northern Ethiopia were forced to flee their homes since hostilities resumed, many of them for the second time. Although peace returned to northern Ethiopia in late 2022 with the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) and better humanitarian access to Tigray and the neigboring regions of Afar and Amhara, needs remain high due to the two-year conflict.
Conflict in the Tigray region and surrounding areas had already displaced hundreds of thousands before. The largest increase in displacement in Africa over the year 2021 has been in Ethiopia. As a result of violence in the northern regions some 1.9 million Ethiopians fled their homes in 2021 and 2022, adding to the total of 4.7 million Ethiopians forcibly displaced. While nearly 150,000 Ethiopians have fled to neighboring countries, 4.6 million are internally displaced. In addition, Ethiopia hosts more than 880,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from South Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea. According to the World Food Program (WFP), 13.6 million people in the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions are in need of food assistance due to the conflict.
A prolonged drought, the worst in the Horn of Africa region in modern history, is increasing food and nutrition insecurity in eastern and southern Ethiopia. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 7.4 million people nationwide are suffering severe hunger due to the drought, and according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 9.8 million people in drought areas are in need of food assistance. 500,000 people have become displaced due to the drought.
In 2022, a total of more than 25 million people in Ethiopia needed humanitarian assistance and protection; nearly three-quarters of those in need were women and children. OCHA estimates that 28.6 million people require humanitarian aid in 2023, an increase of more than 3.5 million compared to the previous year. According to UNICEF, 16.5 million children alone are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
The security situation
In November 2020, military conflict erupted between forces allied with the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian National Defense Force, Ethiopia's national military. The conflict, which lasted throughout 2021 and 2022, exacerbated ethnic violence and was largely concentrated in the regional states of Tigray, Amhara, and Afar. The conflict in northern Ethiopia triggered the dire humanitarian situation in these regions. Tens of thousands have died and millions are internally displaced.
Between March and August 2022, a humanitarian ceasefire and cessation of hostilities led to an improvement in the delivery of aid. The ceasefire gave hope that peace talks could lead to a resolution of the conflict and the return of displaced people to their homes and livelihoods. However, on August 24, 2022, fighting broke out again between the Tigray People's Liberation Front and the Ethiopian federal government. Both sides of the conflict blamed each other for the renewed hostilities. The violation of the five-month cease-fire in the Ethiopian civil war dashed hopes for unhindered access for humanitarian aid. Instead, the collapse of the truce led to the closing of humanitarian corridors.
On November 2, 2022, the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray Peoples' Liberation Front (TPLF) announced a ceasefire after ten days of peace talks in South Africa mediated by the African Union (AU). A joint statement said the warring parties agreed to "silence the guns and end the two-year conflict in northern Ethiopia." The terms of the cease-fire agreement commit the federal government to facilitating unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray. On November 12, military commanders representing Ethiopia’s government and the TPLF signed a deal in Nairobi establishing the modalities for the implementation of the “Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement” (COHA). If the cease-fire is fully implemented and held this time permanently, it would end a civil war that has devastated large parts of northern Ethiopia and may have killed hundreds of thousands.
In Mid-November the first aid deliveries reached Tigray since the Pretoria and Nairobi peace agreements were signed. Humanitarian sources on the ground say improved security in Tigray, Afar, and Amhara is opening up opportunities for humanitarian access to areas so far inaccessible. According to OCHA, between mid-November, following the cessation of hostilities, and the end of December, more than 3,000 trucks carrying food, as well as health, shelter, water and other supplies, have been brought into the northern region.
Humanitarian access to northern Ethiopia's Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions continues to improve since the signing of the COHA, enabling relief actors to scale up assistance and deliver nearly 153,000 metric tons of life-saving cargo as of mid-February 2023.
The 1.5 million Ethiopians displaced before the conflict in Tigray are a reminder that Ethiopia faces multiple sources of instability that require constant political attention. Resource conflicts due to the ongoing drought could increase insecurity in several regions and lead to further displacement. According to OCHA, ongoing hostilities in western Oromia continue to displace hundreds of thousands of civilians and are impacting humanitarian operations.
Your donation for the Ethiopia emergency can help United Nations agencies, international humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their local partners to rapidly provide water, food, medicine, shelter and other aid to the people who need it most.
- UN Crisis Relief: Ethiopia Emergency
- World Food Programme: Ethiopia emergency
- UNICEF Appeal: Ethiopia
- UNHCR: Ethiopia Tigray emergency
- International Rescue Committee (IRC): Ethiopia Appeal
- Save the children: Ethiopia Emergency
- Caritas Internationalis: Ethiopia Appeal
You can find more organizations to donate to in: DONARE: Humanitarian Crisis Relief , DONARE: Refugees and IDPS , DONARE: Children in Need and DONARE: Hunger and Food Insecurity.
- UN OCHA Situation Report Ethiopia
- ACAPS: Ethiopia complex crisis
- World Vision International: Northern Ethiopia crisis
- European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO): Ethiopia
- International Crisis Group: Ethiopia
- Human Rights Watch (HRW): World Report 2023: Ethiopia