Emergency in Northern Ethiopia Requires Urgent Humanitarian Intervention and Access

Internally displaced populations are in dire need of humanitarian and recovery assistance in northern Ethiopia. Photo: IOM Ethiopia

Addis Ababa – Internally displaced populations are in dire need of humanitarian and recovery assistance following the reported cessation of military operations on 28 November, after more than three weeks of combat in the northern Ethiopian regional state of Tigray by the Ethiopian National Defence Forces. 

In the worst-case scenario, the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG) estimates that 1.98 million people could be affected. Ahead of the inter-agency needs assessments underway this week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is scaling up its operational and technical capacity to respond.  

The Organization is appealing for USD 22 million to contribute to collective preparedness efforts ahead of the humanitarian response to the situation in Northern Ethiopia. 

Considering the forecasted needs, IOM’s Migration Emergency Funding Mechanism has allocated USD 1 million to urgently mobilize global stocks of shelter, non-food items (NFIs) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to ensure that humanitarian assistance can be immediately delivered to the affected populations once access is granted.  

“We are committed to providing humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable as soon as we can reach the affected populations and can assess the increasing needs,” said Maureen Achieng, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Ethiopia. 

“Access to the affected regions is paramount to understanding the numbers and whereabouts of those forced to flee.” 

IOM’s current preparedness efforts, highlighted in the appeal, are designed to ensure that the most pressing humanitarian needs are met and to lay the foundation for recovery. Additional information on vulnerabilities, access to services, numbers and locations of affected populations will further inform the long-term response once available. 

Funding toward this appeal will allow the Organization to provide shelter and NFIs as well as health and WASH services in affected communities. It will also enable IOM to support adequate protection and assistance in displacement sites.  

In addition, IOM will employ its Displacement Tracking Matrix to inform the collective humanitarian and development response and better prioritize the allocation of resources.  

As a first step, a surge team of technical experts has been deployed to Addis Ababa to guarantee that adequate expertise is available in affected areas, hence fostering a streamlined humanitarian coordination and response.   

The emergency in northern Ethiopia comes at a time when the country is grappling with a humanitarian situation worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing desert locust infestation which has negatively impacted food security levels.  

Prior to November, IOM’s DTM recorded a total of 1.8 million people internally displaced by insecurity and disasters across the country. IOM will continue to accelerate efforts to respond to this population in its programming with a view to conclusively address and resolve internal displacement in Ethiopia.  

The appeal for the Northern Ethiopia Crisis is in line with the ICCG’s Humanitarian Preparedness Plan. 

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2020 and beyond. The Platform is regularly updated as crises evolve and new situations emerge.     

For more information, please contact:  

Angela Wells at IOM Headquarters in Geneva, Email:, Tel: +41 79 403 50365 

Yvonne Ndege, IOM Regional Office for East and Horn of Africa in Nairobi, Email: Tel: +254 797 735 977 

Krizia Kaye Viray, IOM Ethiopia, Email:, Tel: +251993531220