Ethiopia

Ethiopia – COVID-19 in Qoloji IDP site, Flash Update As of 04 August 2020

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Background and Overview

• The Somali Region (SR) hosts approximately 142,800 HHs (857,000 individuals) of internally displaced people (IDPs). Qoloji IDP site is one of the largest IDP sites in the SR. The site is located in a short distance from Jijiga city and other major cities (see map). It hosts 12,532 HHs (75,192 individuals) who reside in overcrowded settings with very minimal distance in between the shelters. Recently, the regional government launched a return program, and about 428 HHs (2,568 individuals) were moved from Qoloji to their areas of origin. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the humanitarian actors have listed Qoloji as one of the 26 IDP sites prioritized for decongestion in Ethiopia.

• On 30 July, during the regional ECC organized by Disaster Risk Management Bureau (DRMB), the Regional Health Bureau (RHB) announced 17 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 among Qoloji IDPs. All 17 cases were asymptomatic and were due to be transferred to Jigjiga for isolation. However, later 08 of the 17 cases were reported missing. The meeting also proposed a number of immediate actions to address the situation. Following the ECC meeting, OCHA also initiated discussions with the humanitarian partners, sub-national and national clusters, and the cluster lead agencies, to scale-up the response.

Immediate Action Plan (Action Taken)

• The regional authorities plan to scale-up response as well as to undertake the following immediate actions.

  • On 3 August, the RHB organized a meeting with key humanitarian partners operating in Qoloji to discuss responses and gaps. Similarly, on 4 August, the DRMB held a meeting with ECC members and discussed the immediate action points recommended in the previous EOC and ECC meetings. The meeting, among other things, recommended the formation of a technical committee that will work on mapping existing resources and identify gaps.

  • The DRMB and humanitarian partners discussed the establishment of an incident command post, and respective members were identified. The 1st meeting took place on 4 August.

  • The RHB, with WHO support, has increased random testing in Qoloji. It has already sent surveillance teams to collect samples from other IDP sites in the Somali region.

  • The RHB, with WHO support, managed to re-calibrate the only PCR machine in the Somali Region, the testing capacity has consequently increased to 1000 cases per day.

  • WFP, IOM, and UNHCR to scale-up response in Qoloji, WFP will provide hot heals, IOM will provide Shelter/NFI assistance while UNHCR will avail SMS support.

  • The Regional Water Bureau to scale-up WASH activities in IDPs sites and isolation centers. Rapid response, risk communication, and IPC to start activities related to contact tracing, COVID-19 tests, infection and prevention control activities, and risk communication to promote social distancing and personal hygiene in the IDP sites.

  • WHO, SMS Working Group and Protection Cluster will advocate for additional resources to cover existing gaps.
    Currently, there is a shortage of Dignity Kits, PPE, psychosocial support, and VTM incentive for frontline workers.
    The Somali region has only one PCR machine, and this will affect the plan to carry out extensive testing in IDP and refugee sites.

Recommendations

• OCHA to continue following up with the regional authorities and humanitarian partners on the outcomes of the regional ECC and ICCG meetings to ensure a timely and adequate response. OCHA is working with regional authorities and the humanitarian partners to identify available resources and gaps, including the possibility of re-programing or using existing resources to ensure immediate response to the needs in Qoloji.

• OCHA and sub-regional ICCG to follow-up on the review and the update of the regional EPRP to incorporate the recent developments on the ground as well as ensure focus on other IDP sites in the region as well.

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