UN OCHA: Tigray Region Humanitarian Update


(Source: UN OCHA) – 


  • Increased funding, unfettered access, communications equipment, longer-term visas for NGO staff Ethiopiaand robust civil-military coordination are all required for scaling up the response
  • Displacement from rural areas continues due to both hostilities and the consequent inadequate humanitarian assistance in areas of origin
  • Seven aid workers have been killed since the start of the conflict in Tigray
  • The UN released US$40 million to the aid operation in Tigray from the CERF and the Ethiopian Humanitarian Fund, in addition to $25 million for needs in other geographic areas.
  • Humanitarian partners have put a response plan for Northern Ethiopia projecting humanitarian needs through the end of July and to the end of the year
The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations. © OCHA

Key Figures


Situation Overview

Humanitarian access in Tigray remains intermittent and restricted almost entirely to urban centers, compromising the much-needed aid operations in rural areas where humanitarian needs are most severe. Increased funding, unfettered access, deployment of additional expertise, communications equipment, longer visas for NGO staff, and robust civil-military coordination are all required to scale up the response, which is still insufficient to meet the needs.

Armed hostilities reportedly continued in North-Western, Central, Eastern, South-Eastern and Southern Zones. In Central Zone, clashes and shelling were reported in Abi Adi Town and surrounding areas, although less intense than previous weeks. Humanitarian partners are denied access by parties to the conflict a few kilometers south of Adwa towards Abi Adi, while the Abi Adi – Hagere Selam road remains highly volatile. In Eastern Zone, the situation in Hawzen Town and surrounding Woredas remains tense. In Southern Zone, humanitarian partners have not delivered meaningful levels of assistance in rural areas for the past four months, including Bora, Neqsegue, Ofla, and Zata Woredas. In North-Western Zone, some partners managed to access and deliver assistance to Zana Town. However, sporadic clashes continued in and around Zana and Selekleka towns and surrounding areas.

On 4 and 5 May, an OCHA-led inter-agency convoy with essential relief supplies, including food aid, mobile health and nutrition teams, non-food items, among others, reached Samre and Gijet towns in Samre and Saharti Woredas respectively, in South-Eastern Zone. Access to these areas had been denied by parties to the conflict for the past two months. Similarly, telecommunications and electricity have reportedly been down for about two months, while looting and attacks were reported in these Woredas. On 5 May, a third inter-agency convoy attempted to reach Yechila Town, Abergele Woreda in Central Zone but it was forced to returned to Mekelle due to the sound of artillery ahead of them.

On 28 April, a national aid worker was reported to have been killed by armed forces after distributing food aid to people in need in Guya Kebele, Kola Temben Woreda, in Central Zone. Seven aid workers have been killed since the start of the conflict in Tigray.

Six months into the conflict, humanitarian needs continue to increase. Humanitarian Partners have put together a response plan that projects humanitarian needs through the end of July and to the end of the year for Northern Ethiopia is being developed to project needs through the end of the year. However, the actual needs are very likely to be significantly higher as humanitarian partners do not have thorough access yet to determine the full extent of needs.

Meanwhile, the number of people targeted for emergency shelter and non-food items increased from 2.7 million in April to 3 million beginning of May following a new IDP figure of 2 million reported by the interim Regional Administration (in addition to one million people hosting IDPs).

A new influx of displacement was reported to Shire and Mekelle from adjacent Woredas due to ongoing hostilities and inadequate humanitarian assistance in these areas. The number of IDP sites in Shire increased from eight in February to 16 during the reporting period, adding to the emergency shelter and non-food items response and needs.

From the findings of a protection assessment carried out in Gijet Town of South-Eastern Zone, physical security, access to services for gender-based violence (GBV) survivors, the situation of unaccompanied children, the loss of identity documents, and the prospect of not being able to plant during this rainy season are identified as main concerns. Women and girls continue to be disproportionality affected by sexual violence and abuse, amid inadequate public health services, further exacerbating the well-being of survivors.

During the reporting period, unexploded ordnances have been identified in various locations in Tigray, including two locations along the Shire-Sheraro road. OCHA is liaising with the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and the UN Mine Action Service for their removal and to initiate sensitization activities to the population.


Cross-Border Impact


Following a meeting on 5 May, Foreign and Development ministers of G7 – the “Group of Seven”- countries and the High Representative of the EU said in statement that the presence of foreign forces in Tigray is deeply disturbing and destabilizing. They acknowledged the announcement from the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea that Eritrean forces will withdraw from Tigray but remain concerned that this has not yet commenced. The process of withdrawal must be swift, unconditional and verifiable, they added.


Humanitarian Access in Tigray

Tigray acces with header (002)

Emergency Response

Humanitarian Preparedness and Response

There are currently 227 UN staff supporting the humanitarian response in the region (63 international and 107 national staff in Mekelle and 6 international and 51 national staff in Shire). OCHA is strengthening access and civil-military coordination capacity with recent deployment of five additional staff. Similarly, NGO partners have significantly scaled-up with 32 NGOs currently responding in Tigray (up from 17 pre-crisis). Additional staff continue to be deployed to support the scale up of operations and to ensure protection-by-presence amid reports of ongoing violence against civilians. With at least 1,141 additional national staff and 108 international staff deployed, the total NGO staff in Tigray is approximately 1,850. The international NGOs are operating both directly and through local partners, including REST, Adigrat Diocese Catholic Secretariat (ADCS); Daughters of Charity, EKHCDC, Organization for Social Services, Health and Development (OSSHD), the local administrations in Tigray and community-based women-led institutions. There are 57 partners (Government, UN, NGO) operating across the region.

Food security remains the largest component of the emergency response. As of 5 May, the three food operators – the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC), Joint Emergency Operation Program (JEOP) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – have distributed more than 20,000 Metric Tons (MT) of food for the first round of assistance for 2021, reaching 1,214,530 million people in 32 Woredas across Eastern, Central, North-western, Southern and South-eastern Zones.

So far, and since the third week of February, 4,578 severely malnourished children received therapeutic feeding treatment by Nutrition Cluster partners. Approximately 350,000 households or 1.75 million people will be targeted for emergency seed support in the next three months.

WASH partners and the Government Water Bureau continue to provide water trucking to nearly 730,000 people. Meanwhile, partners rehabilitated and maintained nine water systems in Enderta, Hintalo Wajirat (South-Eastern zone) and Mekelle, benefiting more than 67,000 people.

As of 8 May, the construction of 1,200 shelters in “Sabacare 4” IDP site in Mekelle were fully completed and 800 shelters are near completion, bringing the total construction to 2,000 shelters out of the targeted 3,310 shelters in the site. Additional camp management partners are needed to complete the construction, which will accommodate more than 19,000 people.

So far, and since December 2020, the Logistics Cluster partners have facilitated the transport of over 2500 metric tons of humanitarian cargo on behalf of humanitarian partners along the main routes into Tigray, primarily Gondar – Mai Tsebri – Shire routes.

Meanwhile, of the approximately 20,000 Eritrean refugees who were previously residing in the northern camps of Hitsats and Shimelba, the UN refugee agency verified some 10,000 refugees who are now in Adi Harush, Mai Aini, Mekelle, Adigrat or in Addis Ababa. It is estimated that 7,000-10,000 Eritrean refugees are still in hard to reach areas across the region.

Emergency Response

High Level Visits

Head of Africa Department at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Irina Schoulgin Nyoni, EU Managing Director for Africa Ambassador Rita Laranjinha and EU Ambassador to Ethiopia Mr. Johan Borgstam visited Tigray during the reporting period.

Cluster Status



  • No updates since last reporting period


  • According to a three-months response plan, cluster partners will provide emergency seeds including cereals, legumes and vegetables seeds and fertilizer for 250,000 farm households benefiting 1.25 million people in Central, Eastern, Southern, South-Eastern and North-Western Zones

  • Cluster partners will provide livestock vaccination, veterinary drugs and veterinary supplies for 252,000 cattle and 500,000 shoats benefiting 368,000 people in Central, Eastern, Southern, South -Eastern and North-Western Zones

  • Cluster partners will provide animal feed support for 63,000 farm households benefiting 315,000 people in Central, Eastern, Southern, South-Eastern and North-Western Zones

  • Cluster partners will provide draught power support for 54,000 households benefiting 271, 000 people in Central, Eastern, Southern, South-Eastern and North-Western


  • No updates since last reporting period

Cluster Status



  • Some 1.4 million out of school children are in need of learning opportunities, especially for the most marginalized and at-risk of drop-out as schools have been closed for over a year

  • Majority of public primary and secondary schools require cleaning, sanitization, maintenance, renovation, rehabilitation and the replacement or repair of school furniture and equipment, according to a Joint Education Needs Assessment (JENA) conducted by the Regional Education Bureau (REB) and Education Cluster in February.

  • Many schools remain occupied by IDPs in urban areas and given the dynamic situation, some schools continue to be used by parties to the conflict

  • Continued psychosocial support training for teachers prior to school reopening is required.

  • Increased drop-out rates at temporary learning spaces due to lack of energy and essential nutrition among children. Parents, children and caregivers are requesting school meals or snacks.


  • Education cluster partners are finalizing the Joint Education Needs Assessment report to be presented at the next national education cluster meeting on 18 May.

  • Back to school action plan and campaign are being developed by REB with support from partners.

  • Non-formal education and integration with child protection services are provided at IDP sites and communities in Mekelle, Shire, Enderta and Hintalo Woredas, South-Eastern Zone.

  • Partners continue to expand their reach to set-up learning opportunities in Adigrat, Adwah, Axum and in South-Eastern Zone (Samre, Seharti, Entalo, Wjirat and Degua).

  • Some 2,789 children are participating in accelerated school readiness and accelerated learning programs in Mekelle and Shire since mid-March, and some 1,771 young children aged 3-6 are receiving early childhood care and development.

  • Some 200 children have been registered to start an accelerated learning program in Mekelle and Shire.

  • Some 375 children are receiving accelerated learning In Hintalo


  • Many children, especially in remote areas, do not have access to temporary learning opportunities yet

  • Additional education partners are needed to provide learning opportunities and teacher training to meet the needs of all the 1.4 million out-of-school children and to support the preparation for the safe reopening of schools.

Cluster Status

Emergency Shelter & Non-Food Items


  • New influx of IDPs to Shire from adjacent Woredas due to ongoing hostilities and inadequate humanitarian assistance in these areas.

  • Authorities reported a continues increase of new IDPs across the region.

  • A considerable number of IDPs do not have shelters and are sleeping in the open air under the conditions of the belg/spring rainfall season, which started in April.


  • As of 3 May, 347,000 (nearly 12 per cent of the targeted 3 million people) were reached with ES/NFI. With completed, ongoing, and planned distributions, the cluster could reach a total of 759,010 people (25 per cent of the target).

  • As of 8 May, the construction of 1,200 shelters in “Sabacare-4” site in Mekelle were fully completed and 800 shelters are near completion, bringing the total construction of 2,000 shelters out of the targeted 3,310 shelters.

  • Ongoing construction of Masta new IDP site in Shire accommodating 342 shelter units. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) started the construction of 300 shelters of which 40 shelters were completed. Samaritans Purse is constructing an additional 48 shelters.

  • IOM and ZOA distributed cash for rent (provision of cash to cover all or part of the cost of renting accommodation) to 4,250 households and non-food items to 2,777 households in Mekelle.

  • NRC distributed cash for rent to 1000 households in Shire.


  • Delayed response activities due to insecurity and rainy conditions in several locations.

  • Challenges with identifying appropriate relocation IDP sites in Shire.

  • Absence of bank services in several locations.

  • Unavailability of some non-food items in the domestic markets impacting procurement.

Cluster Status



  • The interim Regional Administration has estimated that 4.5 million people need food assistance in the Region. An additional 631,775 displaced people were included in the plan for the 2021 round 1 food distributions (a round lasts about six weeks).


  • As of 5 May, the three food operators have distributed more than 20,000 Metric Tons (MT) of food for the first round of assistance for 2021, reaching 1,214,530 million people in 32 Woredas across Eastern, Central, North-Western, Southern and South-Eastern Zones.

  • The National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) has allocated 10,839 MT of food for round 1 of 2021 response plan. It has distributed 1,112 MT to 74,133 people in Ofla and Alamata Woredas in Southern Zone.

  • As of 5 May 2021, World Food Program (WFP) has distributed 11,264 MT to 664,553 people since the beginning of the crisis. WFP plans to expand its operations into five additional Woredas in Southern Zone – Alamata, Korem, Ofla, Raya Alamata and Zata for the second round of assistance for 2021, scheduled to commence mid-May.

  • As of 5 May 2021, the Joint Emergency Operation Program (JEOP) has assisted 1,694,696 people with double rations for rounds 6/7 of assistance for 2020, which started in late October. From 27 March-5 May, JEOP has distributed 86 per cent of the allocated 66,736 MT of food to targeted population for the first round of assistance for 2021


  • Access and security remain significant challenges to reach and assist people.

  • Poor or non-existing local Government structure, particularly in rural areas, hindering the start of food distributions as scheduled.

Cluster Status



  • Movement restrictions due to security and access constraints hinders movement and reach of the mobile health and nutrition teams (MHNTs).

  • Essential medical equipment for hospitals and health care facilities, including oxygen cylinders in Mekelle and Shire.

  • Essential medications for health partners and MHNTs.


  • A Health Response Plan covering May-December 2021 was developed targeting 2.3 million IDPs and host communities, out of the 3.8 million people in need of essential health care

  • The Plan for the preventative Oral Cholera Vaccination (OCV) campaign request is being developed. The plan will focus on IDPs and host community priority Woredas in Tigray

  • Outreach vaccination programs have been scaled up at IDP sites by five partners (IMC, IOM, MCMDO, MSF, SP) in collaboration with health facilities that have functional cold chain systems in Alganesh and Umer primary health clinics and Sihul General Hospital in Shire

  • Approximately 7000 doses of the COVID-19 have been administered in Tigray to front line health workers, people over 65 years, people over 55 years with comorbidities, and IDPs over 55 years.


  • Lack of essential medical equipment, medications and supplies.

  • Accelerate pre-outbreak OCV activities and prepositioning supplies including at Shire hub.

  • Challenges with visa extensions for NGO partners to enable continuation of staff and projects.

  • Safety and access for health care workers and to health care facilities

  • Improved supply for COVID-19 vaccine to proceed with the phase-based approach of vaccination.

  • Insufficient disease surveillance due to interrupted communications and insecurity.

  • Endabaguna Primary Hospital in central Shire services were significantly compromised following detention of two health professionals and non-payment of staff salaries.

Cluster Status



  • No updates since the last reporting period


  • Some 12,584 children under the age of 5 were screened for malnutrition, of whom 250 children were severely malnourished and 1,795 moderately malnourished from 3-7 May.

  • Some 339 of the severely malnourished (SAM) children, including pervious cases, received therapeutic feeding treatment. This brings the total number of SAM children treated to 4,578 since the third week of February.

  • Some 6, 479 Pregnant and Lactating Women (PLW) were screened, of whom 2,530 were identified as acutely malnourished.

  • Some 7,763 PLW and care takers of children under two years of age were counselled on Infant and Young Children Feeding (IYCF) interventions.

  • Some 1,448 children under five years received vitamin A supplementation.

  • Some 932 children aged 2 to 5 years received Albendazole (anti-worm medication).

  • Some 8,807 children and 6103 PLW received targeted supplementary food (TSF).

  • Some 19,769 children and 3,515 women received blanket supplementary food.

  • Seven nutrition officers deployed by UNICEF provided technical support in twenty-five health facilities and 9 IDP sites in Southern, South-Eastern, Eastern, Central and North-Western zones.


  • No updates since the last reporting period

Cluster Status



  • Physical security, access to services for GBV survivors, the situation of unaccompanied children, the loss of identity documents, and the prospect of not being able to plant during the upcoming rainy season are identified as main protection concerns. This is from the findings of a Rapid Protection Assessment carried in Gijet, South-Eastern zone.

  • GBV risks for female youth and mental health and significant psychosocial support (MHPSS) needs are identified among the population in Shire. This is from the finding of a Rapid Protection Assessment looking at the specific situation of youth.


  • In collaboration with the Ethiopian Midwives Association and the Tigray Regional Health Bureau, GBV partners trained 20 social workers and health service providers from 10 health facilities and hospitals across Tigray on sexual and gender-based violence in emergencies.

  • Some 1,015 dignity kits were distributed through Mums for Mums to women of reproductive age in four IDP sites in Adwa and in three IDP sites in Axum.

  • An additional 1,285 dignity kits were transported to Shire to be distributed in the upcoming weeks through Food for the Hungry International.

  • Rapid Protection Assessments were conducted in Axum and Adwa with 34 participants.

  • Protection observation field visits conducted at eight sites – five in Adwa and three in Axum.

  • Protection Cluster partners joined an inter-agency mission to Abi Adi, Adwa, and Axum, looking at issues around access and scaling up interventions.

  • Protection Cluster partners are working with the Education Cluster partners to produce guidance on the resumption of classes in Tigray.


  • GBV service providers report that survivors are scared to come forward to seek help in both rural and urban areas. They requested additional mobile health teams to conduct low-profile medical interventions.

Cluster Status

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)


  • According to a three-month response plan, WASH facilities will be installed in 20 IDP relocation sites (ten in Shire, three in Adigrat, three in Adwa, two in Aksum and two in Mekelle)

  • Rehabilitation of water schemes, especially in rural areas, to support host community and to reduce water trucking. Risk assessment was done for 59 Water schemes in north-Western, Central, South Eastern, Southern Zone and in Mekelle.

  • WASH activities in 83 IDP sites across the region benefiting more than one million people

  • Some 167 water trucks are needed to fill the gap with water trucking.

  • Improving water quality by disinfection, monitoring and testing residual chlorine at distribution points


  • WASH partners and the Government Water Bureau continue to provide water trucking to nearly 730,000 people in IDP sites.

  • Rehabilitation and maintenance were carried out for nine water systems in Enderta, Hintalo Wajirat (South-Eastern Zone) and Mekelle, benefiting 67,560 people.

  • Distribution of WASH NFIs in IDP Sites for about 34,542 people in Mekelle, Adigrat, Shire and Southern Zone

  • Installation of water storage tanks in Shire IDP sites.

  • Construction of sanitation facilities, including 191 latrine stances; 18 showers, and 95 handwashing stations, benefiting 21,106 displaced people in Shire and Mekelle.

  • Hygiene promotion and capacity building for 2,764 people in Enderta, Mekelle and Shire


  • Rural areas remain inaccessible where no maintenance, assessment or water trucking is delivered.

  • Interruption of water trucking operations in Hawzien, Hagereselam and Enticho due to access and security restrictions

  • Military take-over of some water sources, reservoir sites in Shire, Mekelle (Endagebriel) and water offices in Adishihu town and Hagere Selam town in Central Zone.

  • Frequent electricity interruption affecting water trucking in several areas.

  • Lack of fuel to operate electricity generators for water utilities.

Cluster Status

Camp Coordination and Camp Management


  • Only 30 per cent of WASH facilities are completed at “Sabacare 4” IDP site.

  • Increased IDP sites in Shire and Mekelle from 15 to 16 and from 19 to 21 respectively since a week earlier reflecting growing influx of IDPs to these two locations.

  • Designation of a Government camp management entity is urgently needed to ensure a well-coordinated approach with the daily management and maintenance of IDP camps across Tigray.


  • CCCM Cluster partners distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) materials for Site Management Support (SMS) and Women committee members in 16 SMS managed sites reaching 217 committee members, for their use in the event of COVID-19 contact tracing and assisting suspected cases for testing.

  • Service monitoring was conducted in IDP sites in Axum university, Shire campus, Firesewat high school, Tsehaye primary school and Midregenet primary school.


  • Cross-cutting funding gaps across CCCM/Shelter and WASH clusters for “Sabacare 4” site.

  • Food and shelter remain the major complaints by IDPs mostly residing at IDP sites.

  • Additional camp management partners are needed.

Cluster Status



  • No updates since the last reporting period.


  • In the reporting period (1-7 May), cluster partners facilitated the transport of 37 metric tons of NFI cargo on behalf of one partner.


  • Ongoing insecurity is the main challenge of the response.


Regular Meetings

The Inter-Cluster Coordination Groups (ICCG) have been activated in Mekelle and Shire and are holding regular meetings. However, Tigray UN-led clusters have very varied levels of capacity in the region and all clusters urgently require a dedicated full-time coordinator in place.  Coordination platforms are being strengthened. All Government-led clusters have an established coordination forum in Mekelle, while all but four have set up coordination structures in Shire. The Interim Administration-led Tigray ECC continues to meet weekly with all clusters and with the humanitarian community.

Emergency Response

Funding Update

On 6 May, the UN announced the release ofUS$65 million for the humanitarian response in Ethiopia, including $40 million to the aid operations in Tigray, where it will fund emergency shelter, clean water, health care, work to prevent and respond to cases of sexual and gender-based violence, and emergency telecommunications to support the humanitarian response. The funds are allocated from OCHA-managed Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund ($25 million) and the Central Emergency Response Fund ($15 million).


OCHA coordinates the global emergency response to save lives and protect people in humanitarian crises. We advocate for effective and principled humanitarian action by all, for all.

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