Meryame Kitir releases four million euros for victims of violence in Tigray

Five months after the start of the conflict in Tigray, more and more testimonies about extreme violence are coming forward. Therefore, Minister of Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir has decided to increase the funds for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) by four million euros specifically for the reception and protection of victims.

Early November 2020, a conflict broke out between the Ethiopian government and regional armed groups in the Tigray region. More than 60,000 Ethiopians sought refuge in Sudan, but violence continues and the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. Aid workers and health facilities are also badly affected by the fighting.

Humanitarian aid

According to the UN, about 4.5 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance (food, health, clean water, etc.) in Tigray. 1 million people are on the run. Although there is more access to bring aid to urban areas, access of humanitarian aid to other, more rural, areas remains difficult. Moreover, the needs for protection and prevention of human rights violations are particularly high. There are more and more horrifying reports of murder, sexual violence and looting of food sources. It is in this context that Minister Kitir decided to release four million euros for an ICRC project. This will focus on the protection of the affected population. Special attention will be paid to victims of sexual violence.

"Belgium has long been concerned about the situation in Tigray. Through this project, I want to effectively take action," said Minister Kitir. "The International Committee of the Red Cross was one of the first actors on the ground to provide humanitarian aid and are making significant efforts to provide assistance in areas that are difficult to access. They are crucial in providing shelter and protection to victims. I am thinking particularly of the reception and protection of women victims in the region.”

In addition, Belgium also provides humanitarian aid through flexible funds. These are not linked to a specific aid action, but are part of our country's humanitarian strategy to allow aid organizations (such as OCHA, WFP, FAO,...) to respond quickly and efficiently to current needs. Part of this flexible funding will help people in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, even before the Tigray conflict, the country was struggling with high humanitarian needs due to, among other things, climate change and internal conflict.

Independent research

Besides humanitarian aid, Minister Kitir also stresses the importance of an independent investigation into the crimes committed in Tigray. They cannot go unpunished. In addition to supporting the victims, the International Committee of the Red Cross will also collect testimonies, document abuses and remind involved actors of their responsibility to ensure that international humanitarian law is respected.