Drought crisis in Ethiopia
Human-caused climate change has led to record drought across Ethiopia and neighboring countries in the Horn of Africa. Compounding the effects of one failed rainy season after another are bouts intense heat — a lethal combination.
Crop yields have dwindled, and millions of livestock have died from lack of food and water, destroying livelihoods. Children are starved of nourishment, clean water, safety and security. Some have been sent to work or into early marriage.
UNICEF is on the ground in Ethiopia working with partners to deliver lifesaving support to the most vulnerable children and families, but more support is needed to scale up the humanitarian response.
The Tigray conflict's legacy: war crimes against women and girls
Ethiopians are also still suffering the effects of a brutal armed conflict. While the fighting in Tigray ended in November 2022, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians remain displaced and traumatized.
Many atrocities were committed against civilians during the conflict — including rape and sexual violence perpetrated on a "staggering scale" according to the UN Human Rights Council. All sides were to blame; Tigrayan women and girls were targeted by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces as well as regional militias.
The Council reported on these and other war crimes in Tigray by the Ethiopian government and its allies, noting that they had severely restricted humanitarian access to the region, denying some 6 million people access to basic services for over a year and using starvation as a method of warfare — tactics that left 90 percent of the population in need of assistance.
Millions of Ethiopians are still displaced and need support
UNICEF continues to focus its humanitarian response in areas affected by violence and drought. Alongside partners, UNICEF is looking to scale its support for families who were forced to flee their homes for safety, often ending up in open spaces without water, food or shelter.
In addition to an estimated 4.2 million Ethiopians who remain displaced, there are 1.5 million who are returning home to rebuild their lives and who also need assistance.
How UNICEF is meeting urgent needs in Ethiopia
UNICEF continues to ramp up services for children and families in need. These include mental health and psychosocial support, and family tracing, reunification and alternative care for unaccompanied and separated children.
Other priorities include:
Treating and preventing malnutrition
Together with partners, UNICEF is working to reach and treat malnourished children as their numbers continue to soar; UNICEF remains the world's largest single procurer Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a nutritious peanut paste and highly effective treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
Protecting against disease
Lack of safe water increases the risk of waterborne disease outbreaks, including cholera, which is on the rise; UNICEF helps prevent the spread by improving sanitation and distributing hygiene supplies.
Improving access to safe water
UNICEF provides safe drinking water by trucking and also by fixing malfunctioning systems.
Helping kids get back to learning
Millions of school-age children in Ethiopia are out of school. In Somali and Oromia regions, for example, students often have to drop out so they can help fetch water — often traveling long distances — or look after other children or livestock while the adults try to find water for their families and cattle.
Children who are out of school are at risk of exploitation as families are pushed into dangerous coping mechanisms. Migrant and displaced children who are out of school are more vulnerable to being forced into child labor or pressed into early marriage, or subjected to human trafficking. They face an increased risk of gender-based violence and exploitation. All have lasting physical and psychological effects.
Getting kids back to learning goes hand in hand with child protection. UNICEF provides education — in both formal and informal settings — across Ethiopia's emergency-affected areas, by setting up temporary classrooms at displacement camps, reopening schools, providing learning materials and training teachers, among other measures.
Protecting children's rights
Children on the move and children caught in conflict and other crises are often at high risk of exploitation and abuse.
UNICEF works closely with Ethiopia's regional governments, providing financial and technical support to strengthen protections for children, while raising awareness of the perils of child marriage and child labor and the importance of keeping kids in school.
UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to help ensure children are healthy, educated, protected and respected. Unrestricted donations give UNICEF the flexibility to direct resources to the most urgent needs.