Ethiopia’s Tigray Crisis: What’s Happening + How To Help

Ethiopia’s Tigray region is reeling from multiple humanitarian crises: conflict, a worsening famine, natural disasters, and COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know about the ongoing challenges and how to help.


The famine in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has become the worst food crisis in a decade. According to the United Nations, more than 350,000 people are suffering from severe famine conditions in the region, and millions more are at risk of famine.

The crisis was spurred by the conflict that began last November when the Ethiopian government announced a military offensive against the Tigray region. That followed an alleged attack by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on a state-controlled military base. The TPLF, Tigray’s ruling party, held power in the central Ethiopian government until 2018. Tensions escalated after months of feuding between the TPLF and the central government.

After six months of conflict, thousands of civilians have died, most of the region’s 5.5 million people urgently need humanitarian aid, and more than 2 million are displaced. Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers are accused of blocking food aid and stopping farmers from harvesting, plowing, or planting, and killing livestock and looting farm equipment.

The instability comes as millions in the Tigray region are recovering from the country’s worst locust outbreak in 25 years, a deadly season of flooding, and severe droughts that displaced thousands of people. These compounding challenges, worsened by the climate crisis, destroyed agricultural yields and made food difficult to access across the country.

Famine largely due to continuing conflict put hundreds of thousands of people at risk in northern Ethiopia and threatens to destabilize the larger eastern Horn of Africa.

How You Can Help

GlobalGiving’s vetted nonprofit partners have been responding to these crises in Ethiopia. They are addressing the immediate and long-term needs of the people impacted—from securing food, shelter, and clean water for those who have been displaced to providing care for children across the Tigray region.

You can support people from the Tigray region facing conflict, famine, and other challenges in the following ways:

    1. Provide health care and essentials for people who are displaced.

    Since last November, more than 70,000 refugees have crossed from the Tigray region into neighboring Sudan. Once there, they have reported killings, mass starvation, and severe trauma from inside Tigray. Nonprofits like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are providing clean water, sanitation, health care, and other essentials to people who have been displaced from the Tigray region. It is part of IRC’s ongoing emergency and development work in the Shire area of Tigray that supports Eritrean refugees living in four camps.

    2. Support extended care for children and youth in the Tigray region.

    Continued conflict puts children at greater risk of violence, trafficking, and exploitation and threatens education and stable housing, which children need to thrive. Abraham’s Oasis works to bring stability to children’s lives in northwestern Tigray. The organization provides basic care for babies and helps reunify children who have been separated from their parents. For children who can’t reconnect with their families or find adopted homes, Abraham’s Oasis offers long-term care and educational support for students with special needs.

    3. Help people exposed to trauma access psychosocial care.

    Many people are experiencing trauma related to conflict and displacement that may affect their mental health for years. Psychosocial care is essential to combat depression, anxiety, and disorders associated with trauma. IsraAID is helping displaced Ethiopians care for their changing psychosocial needs as they move from crisis to reconstruction, rehabilitation, and, eventually, sustainable living. Across the region, IsraAID offers integration and psychosocial support programming with a focus on women and children.

    4. Support sustainable gardening after a year of historic drought, flooding, and disasters.

    To help people from the Tigray region recover from the natural disasters that devastated crops in 2020, Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB) focuses on teaching sustainable farming practices for microgreens and other vegetables. CCB’s gardening projects for Ethiopians displaced in Sudan help them grow their own food and develop skills that will continue to support them once they can return home.

Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 8, 2021 and last updated on June 11, 2021.

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