Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF): Main points on the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia (02.03.2021)

More than three months into the crisis, MSF is very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Tigray. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes after fighting broke out in early November, 2020, according to OCHA. As of mid-February, more than 60,000 people have crossed to Sudan as refugees, while many others are displaced within the region, staying in towns, remote areas or trapped between localised outbreaks of fighting.

In the areas MSF teams have been able to access, displaced people and conflict-affected communities have very limited access to basic services, like food, clean water and shelter. Shortages of food and supplies and the interruption of essential services like electricity are having a devastating impact on the population and affecting access to medical care and livelihoods.

Most of the health facilities our teams visited in the towns and peripheral areas of Tigray visited so far were non-functional. It is crucial to restore essential life-saving services, including medical care, in Tigray to meet the population’s basic needs

We are particularly worried about the food situation, which was already bad before the fighting broke out. The fighting started at harvest time in a region where crops were already badly damaged by desert locusts, leaving food in short supply.

The scale of humanitarian needs is alarming and the response on the ground is still extremely limited. Access remains challenging, but is possible in some areas. MSF is scaling up medical activities in Adigrat, Adwa, Abyi Addi, Axum, Adwa, Dansha, Hiwane, Humera, West Tigray and Shire and Shiraro areas and we see huge needs requiring an urgent scale up of principled and humanitarian assistance.

Safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance and population’s access to services needs to be ensured in all areas of Tigray. There are still large parts of the region where MSF teams and other humanitarian organizations have not been able to gain meaningful access.

MSF response in the context of the Tigray crisis:

MSF teams have been providing medical care to some of the most affected people in the Tigray region since mid-December 2020 by providing basic primary healthcare to the displaced people and fighting-affected communities, as well as facilitating referral of critically-ill patients to secondary level of care facilities. Our teams also donated emergency and essential supplies such as medications, oxygen and food for patients, and rehabilitated key services of badly damaged health structures in all those areas we could access so far.

As of the end of February 2021, MSF teams are supporting 5 hospitals. We are also supporting health centres and are running mobile clinics in over 25 locations. Note: the number of locations with mobile clinics keeps changing constantly as teams are expanding outreach activities to new locations on a weekly basis.

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