ADDIS ABABA: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appealed to donors for 20 million Swiss francs to urgently expand its response to the acute humanitarian needs created by the Tigray crisis in Ethiopia.
“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is appealing to donors for 20 million Swiss francs to urgently expand its response to the acute humanitarian needs created by the Tigray crisis in Ethiopia, while the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appealing for 27 million Swiss francs to support the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, the Sudanese Red Crescent Society and the Djibouti Red Crescent Society to address other drivers of vulnerability in the region,” the ICRC said in a statement issued on Thursday.
Noting that “many people have been displaced within Tigray, and almost 60,000 sought refuge in Sudan,” the ICRC said refugees and people displaced within the region suffer from a lack of food and essential services, like water and healthcare.
It also indicated that some healthcare facilities in Tigray “were abandoned and looted, while others are running short of supplies and are struggling to cope with the growing demand. Thousands have lost contact with their loved ones.”
“The needs in Tigray are overwhelming. Government responses need to accelerate, and humanitarian organizations urgently need access so people can receive lifesaving assistance before it’s too late,” an ICRC statement quoted Patrick Youssef, the ICRC’s regional director for Africa.
“Humanitarian access outside major towns remains challenging and there is little visibility on the humanitarian situation in rural areas,” Youssef.
“The recent developments in Tigray have compounded other existing vulnerabilities in Ethiopia and in neighboring Sudan and Djibouti. Even before the fighting, the region was dealing with acute food insecurity, an invasion of desert locusts, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mohammed Mukhier, regional director for Africa at IFRC.
The Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), present across the country, including Tigray, has been providing humanitarian assistance since the first day of the fighting, working alongside the ICRC. The ERCS counts on a large network of volunteers who remained active despite being affected by the crisis themselves.
The ICRC has been working in Tigray for decades and maintained its operations throughout the fighting that erupted almost three months ago. Supporting hospitals in Mekelle, Axum, Adwa and Shire has been a priority. Following some of its initial assistance missions, which included sending the first humanitarian convoy into Mekelle and helping some 11,300 families reestablish contact, the ICRC is appealing to donors for funds needed to reinforce its operational capacity. It is expanding its presence in Mekelle and re-opening an office in Shire.
The IFRC is appealing for funds to enable the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, the Sudanese Red Crescent Society and the Djibouti Red Crescent Society to deliver humanitarian assistance and recovery support to 660,000 people.
In November, the IFRC released funds to the Ethiopian Red Cross Society to target 7,500 affected people in Amhara to improve their access to health, water and sanitation, shelter and livelihood support for four months.
The IFRC also released emergency funds to the Sudanese Red Crescent Society to provide emergency services to 40,000 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan. The Sudanese Red Crescent Society works in Hamdayit and Al Lukdi centres and Um-Rakoba settlement to provide shelter, household items, health services, improved water and sanitation, and to carry out gender protection and inclusion activities.
In all the three countries, the IFRC continued supporting national societies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.