Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country's northern Tigray region, cross the border into Hamdayet, Sudan.
© UNHCR/Hazim Elhag

Ethiopia Tigray Emergency

Conflict and food shortages are fuelling a full-scale humanitarian emergency.

Since November 2020, fierce fighting between the Tigray regional government and Ethiopian federal forces has caused deepening misery. 

Civilians have been displaced amid widespread reports of gender-based violence, human rights abuses, loss of shelter and access to basic services, and critical levels of food insecurity. 

More than two million Ethiopians have fled in search of safety within the country, and tens of thousands have crossed the border into Sudan. 

Many of the refugees are women and children. Most fled with barely any belongings and arrived exhausted from walking long distances over harsh terrain.

Inside Ethiopia, the potential for further displacement is growing by the day. UNHCR is concerned about the safety and security of all civilians in Tigray, including almost 100,000 Eritrean refugees living in camps there.

The Tigray, along with the broader region, is also facing a deepening hunger emergency with increased humanitarian assistance urgently needed.

“I was scared something bad would happen to us if we stayed. We had no choice but to escape.”

Letha, Ethiopian refugee in Sudan

Letha and her daughter Eymaret are all smiles after being reunited following months of separation due to the conflict in northern Ethiopia.
© UNHCR/Abdulkhaliq Khalif

Letha’s Story

Letha was seven months pregnant when she made the difficult decision to leave her home in Ethiopia’s western Tigray region without all of her family.

When fighting broke out in November 2020, she was separated from her husband, son and daughter, and fled across the border into Sudan with her two youngest children.

They were accommodated at a reception centre where UNHCR provided them with assistance, including food and shelter.

Letha later delivered a healthy baby boy, but she still felt bereft.

“I wasn’t at peace, because I didn’t know where the rest of my family was,” she says.

With help from UNHCR and its partners, Letha was reunited with her 11-year-old daughter, Eymaret after a seven month separation.   

But the search for Letha’s husband and son continues.

“We had a good life back home and lived peacefully. My dream is for our whole family to be together again,” she says. 


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About Tigray Crisis

What is happening in Tigray, Ethiopia?

The Tigray conflict began in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia in 2020, when thousands of refugees began fleeing ongoing fighting in the region to seek safety in eastern Sudan.

Refugees – mostly women and children who are exhausted from walking long distances over rough terrain – have been arriving at remote border points. With no end in sight to the conflict, more support is urgently needed.

How can I help refugees from Tigray?

You can help refugees fleeing Ethiopia and internally displaced people by making a donation or fundraising for us.

Your support will provide emergency shelter, portable water and health screening to the thousands of refugee women, children and men arriving from the Tigray region in search of protection.

Our fundraising commitment

The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.

Humanitarian programs