Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Ethiopian refugee children who fled the Ethiopia's Tigray conflict run for a food distribution by Muslim Aid at the Um Raquba refugee camp in Sudan's eastern Gedaref state on Dec. 12, 2020.

YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of children have become separated from their parents amid the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and are in desperate need of protection, aid groups say.

Many have been forced to take refuge in informal camps and are at risk of abuse, sexual assault and rape. Children’s aid groups say the unaccompanied and separated children need mental-health support to help cope with the trauma they have endured. The International Organization for Migration has reported at least 917 unaccompanied and 4,056 separated children in the region.

A new report from Save the Children published Monday said that many of these children were separated from their parents while fleeing for their lives, while others have also lost their parents to the conflict.

Story continues below advertisement

The organization said many children are living in single rooms where more than 50 people sleep, increasing the risk of physical and sexual violence. Rape and sexual assault against women and girls – including against pregnant and elderly women – is on the rise, with more than 950 girls and women reporting being raped in the past two months.

The Ethiopian military captured Tigray’s capital, Mekele, in late November. But conflict between the military and Tigrayan forces has continued, with thousands of civilians and combatants killed since early November.

Elisabeth Arnsdorf Haslund, a UNCHR spokesperson based in Ethiopia, said the refugee agency is “deeply concerned” over the humanitarian situation in Tigray, where hundreds of thousands of people need lifesaving assistance amid the conflict.

Being separated from their families and being forced to leave home has a deep impact on children, said Matthew Sugrue, humanitarian director for Save the Children in Ethiopia. Many children have been living in empty schools, Mr. Sugrue added, which has taken a severe toll on their mental health.

“There’s no safety and security at these schools,” he said. “People are always concerned that someone could come in. They could be robbed – something could happen.”

Marc Bonomo, director of international programs and partnerships at SOS Children’s Villages Canada, which is working with unaccompanied and separated children in the region, said the organization is hearing “frightening and alarming” reports of sexual violence targeting women and girls across the Tigray region.

“And we’re hearing that there’s not a lot of assistance for the survivors of that violence to receive mental-health and psychosocial support or medical treatment and followup,” he said in an interview.

Story continues below advertisement

In schools where many have sought refuge, he said, there is limited access to water and proper hygiene facilities. And with families and community members living in tight quarters, there is heightened risk of sexual gender-based violence.

“We can provide them with temporary shelter, and make sure that they’re safe while we work to reunite them with their families,” he said.

Mr. Bonomo called on Canada’s federal government to provide more funding to help with humanitarian assistance in Tigray.

Guillaume Dumas, a spokesperson for Minister of International Development Karina Gould, said Canada has been concerned about the situation in Ethiopia from the start and responded promptly.

“In November, 2020, we announced new support of $3-million to help experienced humanitarian partners respond to the urgent needs in emergency health care, shelter and non-food items, water and sanitation, and protection arising from the crisis,” Mr. Dumas said in a statement.

Mr. Dumas said Ms. Gould also announced in March that Canada would contribute another $34-million in humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia this year. He said that includes funding to support health services, safe water and family reunification for conflict-affected people in Tigray, as well as health and nutrition, education and protection for mothers and children across Ethiopia impacted by the crisis.

Story continues below advertisement

“Canada continues to urge all parties to protect civilians, to ensure that human rights, humanitarian access and international law are respected, and that a peaceful resolution to the conflict is sought,” he said.

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies