Humanitarian access in northern Ethiopia continued to improve since 1st of April, when aid convoy movements by land resumed through the main corridor Semera – Abala – Mekelle and to parts of Afar. Convoys moved initially at a low pace but picked up during the month of May, with nearly 1,100 trucks carrying relief supplies (including 6 fuel tankers) entering the region. Nevertheless, the humanitarian situation in Tigray remains at critical levels following months of reduction or partial suspension of operations due to limited relief supplies, cash, and fuel for humanitarian operations.
Essential services such as electricity, telecommunications, and banking services remain shut down in Tigray and bordering areas of Afar and Amhara. Meanwhile, with no commercial commodities entering the region since July 2021, the region continues to experience poor market functionality and extremely high inflation levels, above the rest of the country. In May, partners were allowed to mobilize increasing amounts of cash to sustain operations in the Tigray region. However, more cash is urgently required to scale up the response across the region. Lack of fuel has become the key bottleneck for the response, with only 18 fuel tankers entering the region since April 2022. Electricity blackouts and fuel shortages are also affecting the functionality of hospitals, provision of water services, and last mile distributions of life-saving supplies for host communities and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Tigray and conflict-affected areas of Amhara and Afar.
At the end of May, armed clashes were reported in boundary areas of the North-Western zone of Tigray, compromising the safety of the population and aid partners and leading to civilian casualties. Some aid partners temporarily relocated their staff to Shire for safety reasons. The North-Western zone hosts the largest number of IDPs in Tigray, i.e., some 800,000 out of 1.8 million IDPs in total (according to IOM DTM), who have received very limited assistance since 2021. In the Western zone of Tigray, little information is available regarding the general humanitarian situation, and few aid partners are operational.
In Afar, aid partners were able for the first time since January 2022 to access areas impacted by the conflict in Kilbati/Zone 2 and documented large destruction of private property and significant loss and damage to public services and livelihoods. Thousands of people who fled their homes in recent months are hoping to return to their places of origin in the coming weeks if conditions allow. Intercommunal hostilities in boundary areas of Afar (in Hari/Zone 5 and Gabi/Zone 3) and Somali regions (Sitti zone) were reported during May, which temporarily disrupted the movement of goods via the Addis Ababa – Awash - Semera road.
Access in the Amhara region continued to improve in May, with partners able to move through most of the region except in certain areas along the border with Tigray in North Gondar, Wag Hamra, and North Wello zones. Authorities report the continuous arrival of IDPs in North Shewa, North Gondar, Wag Hamra, and North Wello zones, stretching current capacity and overcrowding existing sites. Partners have limited resources and capacity to scale up current responses and address the needs of the increasing number of IDPs and IDP returnees in the region. Disputes over land ownership at Jara IDP site led to hostilities and community tension at the end of May, leading to the suspension of humanitarian activities for a few days. The humanitarian community continues to raise concerns about restrictions on IDPs’ freedom of movement and the need to preserve the civilian and humanitarian nature of IDP sites.
Civilians remain at risk of injury and death due to the presence of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) and explosive remnants of war (ERWs) in areas affected by conflict through northern Ethiopia. In Amhara region, in May, at least four incidents were reported by partners in North Wello and Oromia Special zones, including one with three children perishing near Bati town. In Tigray, partners reported the presence of UXO/ERWs in Erob woreda (Eastern zone), limiting population movements and access to livelihoods.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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