In November 2020 the Ethiopian government began military operations in the Tigray region against the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Civilian structures in towns in Tigray, including hospitals, schools, factories, and businesses, were shelled, looted and destroyed by Ethiopian federal forces and regional militias, and by Eritrean armed forces. The fighting and continued restrictions on humanitarian access forced more than two million people to flee their homes, with thousands fleeing into Sudan, and left at least 2.3 million in need of assistance. Insecurity persisted in other regions, notably Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz, with government security force operations against armed groups resulting in serious abuses, and an uptake in attacks against minority communities by armed groups. Intercommunal and ethnic violence persisted in several regions and resulted in serious human rights abuses against local communities, including killings, property destruction, and displacement.

The government arbitrarily arrested political opposition members and journalists, and harassed and attacked protesters, raising rights concerns in the lead-up to the 2021 national elections.