This image shows Ethiopian refugees crossing the border into Hamdyet, Sudan, over the Tekeze river. As of November 4 2021 it will mark one year since the civil war began in the country's northern Tigray region, where millions of refugees have and continue to flee the conflict. © UNHCR/Hazim Elhag
Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency over the escalating civil unrest. The civil war began in Ethiopia's northern region of Tigray, an ongoing conflict that began over dispute of who should take leadership of the region. This in turn has impacted millions of lives and has been defined as "a full scale humanitarian crisis" by the United Nations. As of May 2021 roughly 2.2 million people have been displaced in the wake of this conflict. In Tigray famine has been officially declared, and violence has spread beyond the borders into neighbouring regions. Unicef has reported that Tens of thousands of people have crossed the border into neighbouring countries in order to seek refuge.
The impact this conflict is having on civilians' everyday lives is immense. Not only is the violence a threat to people's safety and wellbeing, it is bringing lives to an ongoing standstill, with basic necessities and rights being diminished. The UN has confirmed that human rights abuse has been committed by all parties in the war. Forms of torture, sexual violence, ethnic discrimination, and the killing of civilians are all ways in which innocent people have had their rights abused. Children's rights to education have also been disrupted as 7,000 schools have been damaged in the midst of war. Food has been severely scarce and many in the region are experiencing extreme hunger. UN Humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock reported, "The number of people in famine conditions is higher than anywhere in the world at any moment since a quarter million Somalis lost their lives in 2011." This greatly shows how dire the humanitarian crisis is in Ethiopia, and how important it is for all of us to bring light to the lives of those who continue to feel the impacts of this conflict.
We can all take action to support efforts to restrain the Ethiopian conflict by keeping the conversation alive and sharing stories of citizens who are still experiencing this humanitarian crisis. If you wish to find out more you can follow OKayAfrica's Crossroads series, which is highlighting the impacts of the conflict and amplifying the movement calling for peace and the protection of all people's rights.