The purging of Tigray – civilians flee ahead of Amhara and Eritrean attacks

This map from the UN says it all: the flight of ordinary men and women as they are driven from their homes by Amhara militia in the West and Eritrean forces in the North.

In the West, people are fleeing as Amhara Faro militia and special forces “ethnically cleanse” the areas.

Tens of thousands have sought refuge in Sudan and Sheraro, which are now grossly overcrowded. Others have moved to Mekelle to escape fighting.

Importantly, areas along the border with Eritrea are now classified “hard to reach” because they have been taken by the Eritrean forces. Again, families are fleeing southwards.

UN OCHA Report 30 March 2021

  • The conflict has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people across Tigray, leaving people in urgent need of emergency shelter and basic household items, including kitchen utensils, blankets, mats, among others. While most displaced people are seeking shelter with relatives and friends, thousands are also living in overcrowded collective centres in different parts of Tigray. During the reporting period, partners highlight a marked increase in the number of newly arriving displaced people in Shire, Adwa, Mekelle, and Axum.
  • Cluster-led rapid assessments in Adwa, Axum, Shire and Abi Adi from 11 to 15 March further revealed a dire situation for newly displaced people. Large numbers of displaced people are taking shelter in schools, churches and host communities, though many are forced to stay in open air, exposing women and girls in particular to gender-based violence (GBV), in addition to other health and protection-related concerns. This situation is especially concerning given the upcoming rainy season, which threatens to aggravate the plight of displaced people in inadequate shelters. Partners highlighted that the situation in Abi Adi is particularly alarming, given that people have been displaced multiple times given recurrent episodes of fighting, while receiving very little humanitarian assistance. The response remains sub-optimal in all woredas visited, with sometimes up to 60 people staying in a single classroom. Findings from these recent assessments reflected many of the concerns highlighted by previous assessments in Mekelle, where people are sheltering in over-crowded classrooms, many of which have broken doors and windows and lack adequate lighting and sanitation facilities. In view of imminent plans to re-open schools and universities, which have been used as shelters for displaced people, partners operating in both Mekelle and Shire underscore the urgent need to identify and ensure adequate living conditions in alternative shelters. Meanwhile, authorities also report an increasing number of new arrivals in other major towns.


  • Since the conflict began, the Cluster has reached more than 146,000 displaced people with emergency shelter and core relief items, and distribution is ongoing for a further 59,719 people.



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