Ethiopia

Ethiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 13 January 2022

Attachments

OCHA Ethiopia prepares this report with the support of Cluster Coordinators. The data/information collected covers the period from 4-10 January 2022. In some cases, access and communication constraints mean that updates for the period are delayed and cannot be reflected. The next issue of the sitrep will be published on 20 January 2022.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Dozens of civilians reportedly killed in Tigray due to a series of airstrikes during the reporting week, the highest casualties reported since October if confirmed.

  • Emergency health kits, limited medical supplies, and core relief items provided to Sihul Hospital in Shire in Tigray to the people injured by the airstrike on 7 January.

  • All humanitarian convoys to Tigray Region, via the Afar-Abala-Mekelle corridor, remain suspended since 14 December due to ongoing clashes and insecurity in Abala.

  • More than 47,000 people, of whom 51 per cent are women and girls, received emergency shelter and non-food items in Amhara during the reporting week.

  • As of 3 January, about 330,000 people or about 62 per cent of the 534,000 targeted population, reached with food assistance under the current food distribution in Afar.

BACKGROUND

Situation Overview

The situation in northern Ethiopia remains tense and unpredictable. Clashes continue to be reported in Waja, Timuga, Adi Awlie and Hadush Kign in southern Zone, and in Sigem Kofolo, Adi-tsetser and Gemhalo near Sheraro Town in North-Western Zone, in Tigray. Fighting also continued in different locations in Amhara, including Sekota and Abergele Woredas in Wag Hemra Zone and in Adi Arkay Woreda in North Gondar Zone. In Afar, fighting is reported in Abala and surrounding areas bordering Tigray and in areas bordering Afar and Amhara. The ongoing fighting is hindering humanitarian access and delivery of aid to those areas and prohibiting IDPs to return to villages where fighting is still going on.

Airstrikes in several locations in Tigray have reportedly intensified during the reporting period causing the highest reported civilian casualties since October, if confirmed. According to medical sources from Sihul Hospital in Shire Town in North-Western Zone in Tigray, an airstrike on a collective centre for internally displaced people in Dedebit Town on 7 January reportedly killed scores of people, including children and women, and injured at least 138 people. All the victims were recently displaced from Western Tigray. Most of the shelters and other temporary structures have been destroyed by the attack. Due to security and access issues, the number of casualties is not yet verified by partners.

Similarly, an airstrike on Mai Tsabri Town, in North-Western Zone, was reported on 10 January, reportedly leading to several civilian casualties, including deaths. However, humanitarian partners have not been able to confirm these reports nor the number of casualties due to a lack of communications in the area. On 5 January, UNHCR confirmed that three refugees, including two children, were killed and four others were injured in an air strike on the Mai Aini refugee camp in northern Tigray.

Consequently, humanitarian partners temporarily restricted their movement and activities in North-Western Zone, except for Shire Town, due to the ongoing air strikes. All movements were resumed after temporary suspension. Movement of internally displaced people to host community or to their place of origin has also been halted in North-West Zone due to security threats.

In Afar, the fighting in Abala continued to impact humanitarian operations in Tigray since all humanitarian convoys, via the Semera-Abala-Mekelle corridor, the only route available for the transport of humanitarian supplies into Tigray, remain suspended. As a result, no trucks with humanitarian aid cargo entered Tigray since 14 December. Meanwhile, 68 trucks of humanitarian supplies are in the dry port in Semera waiting to proceed to Mekelle. This includes more than 2,400 metric tons (MT) of food, nutrition, WASH, NFI, health, and protection items. This also includes 4 fuel tankers with more than 155,000 liters of fuel. The content of the trucks is being offloaded in the warehouse in Semera , including fumigation process, until convoys movement resume to Tigray. Overall, 1,338 trucks have entered the region since 12 July, which represents only 10 per cent of the required supplies needed to meet the huge scale of humanitarian needs of 5.2 million people, or 90 per cent of the population.

As much as access within Tigray has improved since July, lack of fuel and cash for programming continue to compromise the response capacity. Many partners are largely working in areas close to the main urban locations with little or no travel. Fuel trucks have not been allowed entry to Tigray for over five months (since 2 August). Fuel shortage is seriously affecting critical and life-saving operations, including nutrition therapy interventions. Partners are unable to transport available limited supplies in storage to health and therapeutic centers across the region. As a result, 283 severely malnourished children under five stopped receiving life-saving treatment in Tsirae -Wemberta Woreda. Partners warned that unless fuel enters Tigray as soon as possible, nutrition interventions will be fully ceased. Meanwhile, one partner dispatched all the available nutrition supplies to ten highly-affected areas and is left with zero nutrition supply in stock. Nutrition supplies are therefore urgently needed to replenish stocks and treat malnourished young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Food partners report that as of 10 January, they only have less than 7,000 liters of fuel (excluding contingency stock) in Tigray. At least 60,000 litres of fuel are needed to dispatch around 4,000 MT of food currently available in the region. Partners only have enough food stock to feed around 200,000 people with a complete three-commodity common food basket for one round. This does not consider fuel requirements for day-to-day operations. Due to fuel scarcity in Tigray, as of 10 January, some partners have suspended food dispatch since 10 December 2021 and were only able to conduct small-scale distribution in a few locations where food stock was previously dispatched. Other partners could only continue food dispatch with support from transporters who are able to access fuel locally.

In Amhara, the humanitarian situation remains dire with disrupted basic and vital services. Several cities have not had electricity or running water restored yet. As a result, fuel for generators and pumps are needed. It is estimated that 100,000 liters of fuel is needed this month to ensure water through pumps in North Wollo and Wag Hemra zones alone.

Worth noting that curfew has been lifted in the region, mobile data has been restored in some of the bigger cities and commercial flights to both Kombolcha and Lalibela resumed since 6 January.

Meanwhile, about 35, 000 IDPs were assisted with transportation to voluntarily return to their places of origin from four IDP sites in Amhara, while a significant number of IDPs have managed to return without assistance. It is estimated that at least a few hundred thousand of displaced people have returned to their homes over the past three weeks at least. Returnees and non-displaced people alike are reported to be living critical conditions in damaged shelters and need basic assistance and emergency shelter solutions.

The humanitarian situation in Afar remains dire with more people requiring assistance as the ongoing response is significantly low due to insecurity and lack of access in some areas, low presence of partners, lack of funding and to meet the mounting needs. Most IDP sites in Afar, including Erebti, Brahale, and Talalak, are receiving very little or no assistance. About 23,000 IDPs from Hadelela and Samurobi Woredas have voluntarily returned to their homes but returning IDPs are finding the infrastructure and livelihoods destroyed during the fighting. Food insecurity is prevalent in the areas of a return due to lack of markets and cash flow. Meanwhile, a large number of IDPs were displaced from Shiket in Afar since 20 December due to ongoing fighting and they are now sheltering in the outskirts of Mekelle, Aragure, Milazat, Laham, Wajrat Esra, Adigdom and Hintalo and Samre areas in Tigray.

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