Ethiopia: Humanitarian Access Snapshot (January - December 2020)

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In 2020, humanitarian access to people in need in Ethiopia worsened as a result of a surge in conflict and inter-community violence as well as slow-onset disasters such as drought and floods.

Since November, the conflict in Tigray region created major humanitarian and protection needs. The conflict impacted the population’s access to services, including health, electricity, water or education. In November, six aid workers were killed in the refugee camps of Hitsaats and Shimelba. Through the end of 2020, humanitarian access to Tigray was heavily restricted, impacting the ability of partners to assist/protect the population, while dozens of aid agencies’ assets and supplies have been looted by parties to the conflict.

In Western Oromia, the security situation worsened with Unidentified Armed Groups (UAG) expanding the scale and scope of attacks against government officials and ethnic minorities. Insecurity forced partners to suspend assistance to thousands of IDPs in East and West Wellega. In addition, communications were shut down from January - March and November – December. In Southern Oromia, Bale, Guji, West Guji zones, UAG activities and subsequent security operations hindered relief operations. In Guji, disagreements over the number of people in need and COVID-19 restrictions, impacted the delivery of food to 80,000 IDPs since March.

In July, politically motivated youth protests broke out through Oromia, Dire Dawa and Harar cities. Security forces responded swiftly to re-open roads, however insecurity remained an issue in secondary roads. Partners’ move- ments were affected, including in Addis Ababa and to BGR, Gambela, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR) and Somali region. In Eastern Oromia, protests continued through October - November.

The long-standing conflict between Afar – Issa (Somali) communities continued in areas along the route between Addis Ababa - Djibouti. Meanwhile, the situation in SNNPR remained volatile as a result of multiple political demands by ethnic minorities. In July, following protracted socio-political unrest, Sidama zone became Ethiopia’s 10th Regional State. In Konso zone and adjacent woredas, by mid-November, inter-community violence displaced over 100,000, partners’ access and operations were highly limited. In Gambela, while the security situation improved in 2020, aid workers continued to operate in a highly volatile situation.

COVID-19 added an additional layer of complexity to relief operations in Ethiopia, with related restrictions impacting the ability of partners to sustain operations at scale. Partners continued to operate by shifting programme implementation modalities in order to prevent exposing the population to the disease, protecting aid workers, and avoiding the disruption of assistance.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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