• Crisis Severity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Special Reports




Violence and insecurity in Tigray since November 2020 have resulted in access constraints and severe humanitarian needs. On 4 November 2020, conflict erupted between the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and the regional Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after months of increasing political tensions. Between November 2020 and June 2021 there was continued fighting involving ENDF, Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF), Amhara Special Forces (ASF) and Tigray Defense Forces (TDF). ?

At the end of June, a shift in conflict dynamics, including ENDF withdrawal from the region, dramatically changed the operational context, and access within the region has improved since early July. However, access into Tigray has become severely restricted, with only one viable road into Tigray through Afar and limited air travel. As a result, humanitarian response is hampered by the lack of humanitarian supplies, fuel shortages, and reduced cash availability. Telecommunication, internet and electricity blackouts persist across the region.?

5.2 million people in Tigray (over 90% of the population) are considered to need humanitarian assistance due to large-scale displacement, a lack of basic services, destruction of health facilities, shortages of medicines and goods, lack of livelihood opportunities, and increased food insecurity. More than 400,000 people are projected to face Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) food security outcomes at least until September 2021. ?

Since the start of the conflict the population has experienced significant protection incidents such as mass killings, human rights abuses, violence against civilians, SGBV, and arbitrary detention. There are also protection concerns for the more than 96,000 Eritrean refugees who were living in Tigray prior to the crisis, particularly following the destruction and closure of two of the four refugee camps (Hitsats and Shimelba) in February 2021. Estimates suggest that more than 1.9 million people are internally displaced in Tigray. More than 46,000 Ethiopians have fled to eastern Sudan as of 31 May. ?

Latest Developments


17/11: Since 18 October, no humanitarian supplies have entered Tigray region through the Semera-Abala-Mekele route. Access constraints are hampering the transport of urgently needed supplies to Tigray. Security concerns regarding the Afar route have increased following the detention of more than 70 truck drivers in Semera on 10 November. ?

27/10: On 22 October, the UN suspended all humanitarian (UNHAS) flights into Tigray, after a government-led airstrike forced a UN flight bound for Mekele to return to Addis Ababa. UNHAS flights are the only way for humanitarian responders to move cash, which is already insufficient to sustain humanitarian operations, into Tigray. The UN had already begun reducing humanitarian personnel from Tigray on 20 October. Increasing insecurity and ongoing logistical constraints will impact an already dire humanitarian situation. Between 7-13 October, only 1% of the more than five million people in urgent need of food aid received food assistance. Between 12-18 October, 2.5% of children under the age of five screened for malnutrition were diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition (SAM), up from 2.1%  two weeks prior. ?


Intensified conflict in the Tigray region, a sustained humanitarian blockade, and the main harvest being missed for the second time result in mass starvation and deaths Latest update: 26/10/2021


Highly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely


Very low Moderate Major


Conflict in the Tigray region has displaced over two million people and led to a humanitarian crisis since November 2020. From the start of the conflict until June 2021, heavy fighting in the region has disrupted the 2020/2021 meher harvest season and market functionality, resulting in increased food prices?. The destruction and looting of food stocks, livestock, and farming equipment have diminished livelihood opportunities?. Insecurity, bureaucracy, and logistical issues have prevented aid from scaling up to meet the growing needs. As a result, there is widespread lack of food in Tigray, and malnutrition rates are high. At least four million people are food-insecure, and famine-like conditions and starvation are reported in some areas?.

The Government’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire on 28 June and withdrawal of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) from most of Tigray have not ended the conflict?. Instead, the fighting shifted from Tigray to bordering areas in Afar and Amhara regions. Various triggers could shift the conflict back to Tigray, including the end of the rainy season in September (facilitating military movements), the re-engagement of the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF), who remain in border areas and in western Tigray, or the advancement of regional forces?. Without a mutual ceasefire by the end of the 2021 farming season, an intensified conflict would prevent some farmers from harvesting the crops they sowed.

Since July, humanitarian access within Tigray has improved, but commercial and humanitarian movement into the region has effectively been blocked. The transportation of humanitarian supplies is only sporadically feasible via one road in the Afar region. With an intensification of conflict, the affected border areas likely will continue to be blocked, and the access along the Afar route will deteriorate. Fighting will continue to prevent commercial activity. Shortages and depletion of fuel and cash are already occurring and will continue to paralyse movements and the humanitarian response within Tigray, increasing the risk of famine?.


Intensified conflict and a sustained blockade will prevent food assistance from reaching people in need and result in the 2021 meher harvest being missed in conflict-affected locations. Food stocks are largely depleted. People have been adopting emergency coping strategies since the start of the lean season in May 2021?. Since the conflict began, humanitarian assistance has been insufficient to meet the population’s food needs, and the blockade that began in July has further increased this gap?. If the harvest is obstructed, over five million people in Tigray will lose a vital food source. Compounded by insufficient food assistance, that would lead to an exhaustion of coping strategies. Active fighting, the blockade, and the missed harvest would continue to disrupt trade and the importation of food into Tigray, leading to rising food prices in a place where residents have limited cash. Conflict and lack of fuel will restrict people’s movement, preventing them from obtaining food assistance.

The food shortage will result in an extreme increase in food insecurity, leading to more malnutrition and health-related complications, aggravated by the lack of WASH and health services. People across Tigray will die from starvation. Already by July, over 400,000 people were projected to be acutely food-insecure in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe)?. Infants and children under five, pregnant and nursing women, older adults, and people with disabilities or chronic diseases face a heightened risk of starvation. People who have received no or minimal food assistance since the conflict began, including many IDPs, will also be of particular concern. Data collection challenges and political sensitivities will prevent experts from officially declaring a famine.

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Food: Severe food insecurity has resulted from displacement, movement restrictions, supply constraints, loss of harvest and livelihoods, and disrupted markets. 4.4 million people are projected to face Crisis (IPC-3) or higher levels of food insecurity over July-September, including 400,000 in Catastrophe (IPC-5). Projections did not account for recent access challenges, therefore the situation has likely further deteriorated. ?

Health and nutrition: Access to healthcare has drastically reduced. Health facilities have been looted and destroyed, rendering the majority non-functional. Mobile health units are limited. Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rates are worsening. Other health concerns include chronic health issues and disease outbreaks, such as cholera, due to lack of medicine, overcrowded living conditions, and lack of clean water and sanitation. ?

WASH: Around 4.5 million people need WASH services, including safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. Fuel shortages and access constraints are among the limitations preventing proper distribution of WASH NFIs and the functionality of WASH infrastructure. Lack of electricity and fuel hinders water trucking operations and water pumps. ?

Shelter: Emergency shelter and NFI needs are high due to mass displacement, particularly during the rainy season, as many IDPs lack adequate protection. Response has been hindered by access constraints including lack of fuel and electricity. Supply chain disruptions are causing NFI shortages. Safe relocations and returns need to be ensured.?


  • Due to limited access and communication blackout, the extent of the needs in Tigray is hard to determine.  

  • The food security situation in the Western zone remains unknown