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Over the past weeks, a humanitarian crisis has been unfolding in the Northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, as the conflict between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Ethiopia’s government and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed escalated. While the Ethiopian military was said to have taken control of Tigray’s capital city, Mekelle, in late November, the violence led to thousands being killed, an estimated 50,000 fleeing to neighboring Sudan, and a higher number being displaced from their homes. Humanitarian aid agencies including the World Food Programme and UNICEF have warned that millions remain out of reach of aid, in a region that was already struggling with high levels of food insecurity. As the refugee crisis threatens to destabilize the region, it has been incredibly difficult for international organizations to reach those in need, due to communications outages throughout the region.

In mid-December, GeoPoll began to make calls to Tigray and the neighboring Amhara region from our call center located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, aiming to gather more information on the crisis and reach those who had been impacted. While communications outages were ongoing in some areas, GeoPoll was able to reach 434 respondents in Amhara and 46 in Tigray through Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). CATI voice calls were made by trained interviewers in local languages (Amharic and Tigrinya). All respondents opted-into the study and were given information regarding the confidentiality of their responses.

Data from Tigray and Amhara, Ethiopia

While the results from our study are limited in scope and from a small sample size, they provide some insight into the current situation on-the-ground in Northern Ethiopia. Results show that a much higher percentage in Tigray than in Amhara have been forced to leave their home or know someone who has left their home, with 52% of those in Tigray saying they have fled their home in the past 2 months and 80% in Tigray knowing someone who has fled their home. A higher percent in Tigray (63% compared to 9% in Amhara) also say they have witnessed violence in the past two weeks, and that they do not feel safe in their homes

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Food and livestock markets are more likely to be closed in Tigray, with 57% reporting that their food market is closed and 58% that their livestock market is closed.  Over half of those in Tigray report that they do not have access to medical care, and 80% have experienced phone outages, compared to 32% in Amhara who have experienced phone outages. Those in both Amhara and Tigray report shortages of necessities such as fuel, but they are more severe in Tigray; 87% in Tigray have experienced shortages of necessities while 40% in Amhara say the same.

Open-ended answers give more context to reasons why people have been displaced from their homes, with many citing conflict, the current food situation, necessity shortages, and violence people have witnessed. Regarding violence they had observed, one respondent stated that ‘I saw a battle in which the Tigray Special Forces attacked defense, and then the Amhara Regional State Special Forces came to rescue the defense force and fought to save them.’ Regarding the food situation, while some say it is fine now, others state there is a food shortage, with one respondent stating ‘There is low food supply and high increases in price.’ Answers around shortages of necessities mention food, water, and electricity, among other items. We also asked about current concerns and hopes for the future of Ethiopia, with many citing peace as a hope for the future of Ethiopia.

The full results of this study are available in the dashboard below. To learn more about GeoPoll’s capabilities in Ethiopia, please contact us.