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Norway increases support for civilians fleeing from Tigray

‘I am very concerned about the grave humanitarian consequences of the conflict in the Tigray region in Ethiopia. The civilian population has been severely affected, and thousands of people are being forced to flee every day. Norway will provide approximately NOK 27 million to support the humanitarian response. This support will be used to provide emergency relief to the population in Tigray and to the refugees who have crossed the border into Sudan,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

The conflict in the Tigray region started at the beginning of November, and appears to be escalating with each day that passes. Over the past weeks, 40 000 people have been forced to flee. Humanitarian actors report an acute and growing need for assistance in both the Tigray region and in the border areas of eastern Sudan.

‘It is very difficult to obtain an overview of the humanitarian situation. Telephone lines and the internet have been closed down, and neither humanitarian actors nor the international press have access to the affected areas. Refugees who have managed to cross the border into eastern Sudan have reported immense humanitarian suffering – violence towards civilians, families that have fled leaving their possessions behind, and children who have become separated from their parents,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

Norway’s contribution will go to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and channelled to local partner organisations through the UN. The funds will be used where the needs are greatest, and where actors have access at all times to the affected population. The Norwegian Refugee Council and Norwegian Church Aid are currently preparing a response to the refugee crisis.

Norway will also provide the equipment needed to set up offices and accommodation for aid workers under the auspices of the UN. The working and living conditions for humanitarian aid workers in eastern Sudan are unacceptable, and there is an urgent need to find a solution. The equipment will be dispatched by the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection this week.

‘I urge the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law, provide safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all those in need, and ensure the protection of the civilian population. The hostilities in the Tigray region must cease. Only a political solution can put an end to this crisis, and the parties must come together and negotiate a ceasefire as soon as possible,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

Norway supports the efforts of the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to find a solution to the crisis.

Ensuring that people in need are given the necessary protection and assistance, in line with the humanitarian principles, is a key objective of Norway’s humanitarian policy, as set out in Norway’s Humanitarian Strategy. In a situation of armed conflict, civilians have a right to seek protection either in their own country or, if necessary, in another country.