East Africa: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Scales Up Its Humanitarian Response to Meet Urgent Needs in Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti

press release

Many people have been displaced within Tigray, and almost 60,000 sought refuge in Sudan. Refugees and people displaced within the region suffer from a lack of food and essential services, like water and healthcare. Some healthcare facilities in Tigray were abandoned and looted, while others are running short of supplies and are struggling to cope with the growing demand. Thousands have lost contact with their loved ones.

"The needs in Tigray are overwhelming. Government responses need to accelerate, and humanitarian organizations urgently need access so people can receive lifesaving assistance before it's too late," said Patrick Youssef, the ICRC's regional director for Africa. "Humanitarian access outside major towns remains challenging and there is little visibility on the humanitarian situation in rural areas."

"The recent developments in Tigray have compounded other existing vulnerabilities in Ethiopia and in neighbouring Sudan and Djibouti. Even before the fighting, the region was dealing with acute food insecurity, an invasion of desert locusts, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic," said Mohammed Mukhier, regional director for Africa at IFRC.

The Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), present across the country, including Tigray, has been providing humanitarian assistance since the first day of the fighting, working alongside the ICRC. The ERCS counts on a large network of volunteers who remained active despite being affected by the crisis themselves.

The ICRC has been working in Tigray for decades and maintained its operations throughout the fighting that erupted almost three months ago. Supporting hospitals in Mekelle, Axum, Adwa and Shire has been a priority. Following some of its initial assistance missions, which included sending the first humanitarian convoy into Mekelle and helping some 11,300 families reestablish contact, the ICRC is appealing to donors for funds needed to reinforce its operational capacity. It is expanding its presence in Mekelle and re-opening an office in Shire.

Besides scaling up its presence in Tigray, the ICRC will continue addressing the alarming humanitarian situation in Benishangul-Gumuz, Western Oromia and Guji, where armed violence episodes have been recurrent.

The Sudanese Red Crescent has been distributing food, household items and providing primary health services to refugees and communities hosting them. The IFRC released emergency funds to enable the Sudanese Red Crescent Society to assist 40,000 people. The Djibouti Red Crescent Society maintains a presence in Hol Hol refugee camp and Obock, where it provides water and sanitation services and works to promote hygiene and raise COVID-19 awareness.

The IFRC is appealing for funds to enable the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, the Sudanese Red Crescent Society and the Djibouti Red Crescent Society to deliver humanitarian assistance and recovery support to 660,000 people.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world's largest humanitarian network. It consists of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

ICRC action:

The town of Mekelle has been struggling with a shortage of water in recent months and the ICRC has been supplying water to 3,700 people a day through water trucking and storage tank installations.

It provided medical assistance to 4,500 people wounded by weapons and 10,900 primary healthcare patients. 648 weapon-wounded people received physical rehabilitation services.

The organization has distributed 35 metric tons of food received from the Ministry of Health and Catholic Relief Services to four hospitals in Tigray.

Almost 9,500 displaced people in Mekelle received essential household items.

11,300 families reestablished contact through the Ethiopian Red Cross, the Sudanese Red Crescent and the ICRC services in Sudan and Ethiopia.

IFRC action:

In November, the IFRC released funds to the Ethiopian Red Cross Society to target 7,500 affected people in Amhara to improve their access to health, water and sanitation, shelter and livelihood support for four months.

The IFRC also released emergency funds to the Sudanese Red Crescent Society to provide emergency services to 40,000 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan. The Sudanese Red Crescent Society works in Hamdayit and Al Lukdi centres and Um-Rakoba settlement to provide shelter, household items, health services, improved water and sanitation, and to carry out gender protection and inclusion activities.

In all the three countries, the IFRC continued supporting National Societies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

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