According to the UN, more than 350,000 people in Tigray are facing ‘famine-like’ conditions after continued violence has led to shortages of vital supplies – including food, water, fuel and cash – affecting people across the region.
Across Tigray, almost 4 million people don’t have enough food and are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The crisis has escalated after a conflict which began in November 2020. Ethiopia's government attempted to oust the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).
There are also many reports of sexual and gender-based violence in the region.
‘Our nation is facing a multitude of crises,’ says Ephraim Tsegay, who leads Tearfund’s work in Ethiopia. ‘As it prepares for an election, it faces political tensions and ethnic conflict, a spike in coronavirus cases, devaluation in its currency, and confrontation with surrounding countries over the Nile dam.’
The country goes to the polls on Monday 21 June for a general election. In 2019, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to current president Abiy Ahmed ‘for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.’
Two years later, conflict has once again become a harsh reality for Ethiopia.
Tearfund is responding to meet the needs of both those who have fled from Tigray, and those who have chosen to stay.
‘We’ve been able to provide more than 340 households (2,496 people) in the Afar region with food and non-food items such as clothing, mattresses, blankets, and cooking pots,’ says Ephraim. ‘We’ve also supported 5,820 people in the Amhara region and 3,500 people in Mekele, Tigray.’
Working alongside Tearfund Scotland and other partner organisations, we are helping women who’ve experienced trauma from the conflict by providing emotional and psychological support.
We’re also helping local churches to meet the needs of people who don’t have enough food or safe water.
Efforts to bring peace to the region are being stepped up as well. Tearfund is now working with church networks and denominations that represent over 50 million christians in Ethiopia. The focus is on a peacebuilding initiative called the Joint Initiative for Strategic Religious Action (JISRA).
‘We are working to bring different faith leaders together to have a conversation on peacebuilding, as well as have those faith leaders actively engage in political discussions ahead of elections,’ explains Ephraim.
He asks: ‘We desperately need your prayers for Ethiopia.’