Tigray: Mutable conflict situation paints a stark picture of what is yet to come

This week the situation in Tigray entered a new and dangerous phase. Following the unilateral ceasefire declared by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the conflict seems to have regained strength, as forces from northern Tigray have crossed into the neighbouring Afar region.

The eight-month-old conflict has left the country with a collapsed government infrastructure, a distorted market, and millions of people in need of assistance.

When the Ethiopian army left Mekelle in June the humanitarian situation was already dire. Agencies and church-based organisations faced many difficulties to reach communities in need and limited resources made the delivery of food and non-food items extremely problematic. According to the IPC Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, in May-June 2021 5.5 million people were facing critical food insecurity with more than 500.000 people facing extreme and catastrophic consequences.

The severe food crisis is the result of the cascading effects of the conflict which include displacement, loss of harvest and livelihood and limited humanitarian access.

ACT Alliance’s members have been on the ground to support with the delivery of emergency shelters but also providing those who lost everything in the conflict with unconditional cash transfers and psychological support.  But the supplies fall short of the immense needs of the people of Tigray.

On top of a global pandemic and a conflict that is ravaging an already fragile situation, the lack of access to water, hygiene and sanitation services puts the population at risk of disease outbreaks, including water-borne diseases.

To pre-empt a new health catastrophe, through our appeal, ACT Alliance is working to rehabilitate water points and provide those in needs with chemical latrines.

The Lutheran World Federation has for instance worked on drilling a water supply system to help those who are living in makeshift IDP camps spread out in 23 schools and colleges in Mekelle.

“The situation is worsening by the day” said Niall O’Rourke, Head of Humanitarian Affairs at ACT Alliance. “The numbers we are receiving from our members in the field give us a stark picture of what is yet to come. If action is not taken the situation will further deteriorate”.

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