Ethiopia

Ethiopia: COVID-19 Humanitarian impact - Situation Update No. 02, As of 13 April 2020

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This report is prepared under the auspices of the National Emergency Coordination Center for COVID-19 response, led by the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC), supported by OCHA Ethiopia with participation of Cluster Coordinators. It covers the period from 1-13 April 2020.

HIGHLIGHTS

• As of 13 April, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 74. Ethiopia registered the first three COVID-19 related deaths.

• On 8 April, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed declared a state of emergency (SoE) to intensify control and prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Details of the SoE were proclaimed by the Council of Ministers.

• Humanitarian partners continue delivering life-saving goods and services to people in need, while scaling up COVID-19 response activities.

• In most parts of the country, COVID-19 public information and awareness campaigns (translated in local languages) are ongoing.

• NDRMC and Food Cluster estimate that 30 million people could experience food consumption gaps as a result of COVID-19, based on the estimated food poverty index.

• The Ethiopia - Kenya international border in Moyale is reportedly closed as of 8 April and only movement of critical humanitarian supplies is allowed.

• Thousands of Ethiopian migrants, particularly from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Djibouti, have been deported to Ethiopia, entering the country through different points and increasing the risk for COVID-19 cross-border transmission.

• On 23 March, the Government of Ethiopia made an initial allocation of 5 billion ETB (US$ 140 million). On 7 April, the UK announced an allocation of £19 million to Ethiopia to fight COVID-19. The World Bank provided US$ 82 million to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, of which half is a grant and half is a loan. The OCHA-managed CERF and country-based pool funds (CBPFs) have provided a combined US$ 88.1 million to COVID-19 response globally in 26 countries.

• The Government of Ethiopia is finalizing a multi-sector national COVID-19 emergency response plan for the next three months, appealing for US$ 1.76 billion.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Humanitarian organizations are doing everything they can to support the Government in sustaining life-saving operations in Ethiopia, while also scaling up the response to COVID-19 and ensuring the safety of aid personnel and the population. However, partners are faced with challenges, having had to withdraw staff and/ or delay deployments due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.

The Ethiopian Government, as most governments in Africa hosting major humanitarian operations, has imposed movement restrictions to avoid the spread of the virus and protect the population. The country declared a State of Emergency on 8 April. For their part, regional authorities have imposed strict measures limiting population gatherings and movements within and between regions. These restrictions have impacted relief operations, including life-saving and COVID-19 response activities. Humanitarian partners are working with authorities to establish the appropriate mechanism to enable them – and their private contractors - to continue moving and operating to ensure the seamless delivery of humanitarian assistance to people in need, including to COVID-19.

Since the first cases of COVID-19, sporadic cases of intimidation related to the ‘stigmatization of foreigners and non-local Ethiopians in field locations have been reported. Prime Minister Abiy made a public appeal to the Ethiopian people for solidarity with foreigners, and to stand together in the fight against the virus. The UN communication campaign with the hashtag #IamnotaVirus has helped to mitigate such stigmatization, while partners and authorities continue to engage in mass communication campaigns against rumors and stigmatization.

The potential risk for COVID-19 transmission is high due to the large number of IDPs living in collective sites. Almost all IDPs, including those residing with host communities, have no options to implement the recommended norms of social distance, and no access to proper WaSH facilities and essential supplies such as soaps to minimize exposure to COVID-19. In most IDP collective sites, shelters are crowded, and many people sleep in groups or in crowded communal halls. Regional health authorities are concerned about the situation of the IDPs, however, they point to resource and capacity shortages. The dire health situation of the IDPs and the capacity challenges of the health system, are exacerbated by other public health challenges such as cholera and measles outbreaks.

According to recent projections of NDRMC and the Food Cluster, an estimated 30 million people could experience food consumption gaps, based on the estimated food poverty index. The urban poor and the destitute, homeless and those in informal sectors of the economy are likely to be highly affected. In rural communities, food insecurity will worsen among households that rely on market purchases. Meanwhile, COVID-19 prevention measures in some regions will likely contribute to delays in movement of commercial goods (and humanitarian goods) in the country, resulting in localized food insecurity due to shortages of food items or price increases.

The humanitarian community is concerned about the ongoing deportation of Ethiopian migrants, considering the risk of COVID-19 contagion into Ethiopia, and challenges related to their reception and assistance. At least 2,700 Ethiopian irregular migrants have been deported from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and remain quarantined at the Addis Ababa’ Science and Technology University, Civil Service University and Addis Ababa University. In addition, more than 2,000 Ethiopian irregular migrants have been deported from Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia and quarantined in public schools, university and quarantine centers.

On the logistics side, partners reported the closure of the Moyale border crossing with Kenya, with only critical humanitarian cargo being allowed. Meanwhile, WFP Supply Chain team reported that other land borders with Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya remain open, but only allowing 'essential goods'. There are no restrictions on cargo movements from Djibouti to Ethiopia through Djibouti - Addis road, although there is a reported shortage of trucks to Djibouti due to a spike in demand.

In terms of funding, on 8 April, UK announced an allocation of £19 million to Ethiopia as part of the global leadership in the fight against COVID-19. Around £12 million will be allocated to UNICEF, £6 million to the OCHA-managed country-based pool fund - the Ethiopian Humanitarian Fund (EHF) - and £1 million to support OCHA operations. The EHF has launched the 2020 first round standard allocation for US$23.2 million on ‘critical funding requests’ from clusters against prioritized requirements of the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) requirements, with funding provisions for mainstreaming of COVID-19 response in all sectors. The EHF Secretariat has ensured provisions for partners to access cost extensions (for ongoing projects), to include critical COVID-19 response activities, and other flexibility measures such as ‘no-cost extensions’ (extending of project durations) and greater reporting timelines flexibility. The World Bank announced a US$ 82 million support to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, of which half is a grant and half is a loan.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.