Ethiopia + 1 more

Ethiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 23 Dec 2021

Attachments

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 728 unaccompanied and separated children have been reunited with their families in Tigray and Amhara regions since January, representing only about 9 per cent of the total caseload.

  • Since the beginning of the conflict, and as of end November, more than 1,000 GBV survivors have been supported with health services across the three regions in Northern Ethiopia.

  • No humanitarian aid trucks arrived in Mekelle during the reporting period.

  • More than 5,700 packs of Vitamin A dispatched to Afar to undertake a wide nutrition campaign targeting an estimated 500,000 children.

  • During the reporting week, more than 560,000 people assisted with food in Amhara; more than 88,000 people assisted in Afar; and more than 138,000 people assisted in Tigray.

BACKGROUND

Disclaimer

OCHA Ethiopia prepares this report with the support of Cluster Coordinators. The data/information collected covers the period from 14-20 December. 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 30 December

BACKGROUND

Situation Overview

The situation in northern Ethiopia remains highly fluid and unpredictable despite reported limited improvements in the security situation in some areas where fighting has recently erupted such as the border areas between the Afar and Amhara regions. However, ongoing fighting continue to be reported in many locations across northern Ethiopia and airstrikes in Tigray. Bureaucratic impediments continue to impede humanitarian access, presence, and operations. The large-scale displacement, loss of livelihoods and properties due to the conflict expansion over the last weeks increased humanitarian needs.

Movement of people, displacement and returns, continued during the reporting period. In Amhara region, fluid, and unplanned returns of internally displaced people (IDPs) to their place of origin were observed but it remains difficult to verify the figures due to access constrains. Due to school reopening plans in Debre Berhan city, for example, IDPs from North Shewa, Oromia Special Zone and South Wello returned to their place of origin, while IDPs from North Wello Zone were relocated from schools to alternative sites within the zone. Two IDP sites out of the ten sites in the city were closed during the reporting period.

In Afar, an estimated 750 new IDPs arrived at the Wake/50 IDP site in Chifra Woreda in Awsi Zone during the week, apparently looking for emergency assistance after being trapped for weeks due to fighting in their area. In Tigray, arrival of newly displaced people from Western Zone to North-Western Zone continued at a small scale with few hundred people registered at collective sites during the reporting week. It is estimated that more than 30,000 people were displaced from Western Zone since 20 November.

Airstrikes reportedly carried out on Alamata Town and surroundings in Southern Zone in Tigray between 15 and 17 December. Dozens of casualties are reported, including several deaths, but humanitarian partners have not been able to independently verify these reports due to the security situation and access constraints.

Meanwhile, no humanitarian aid trucks arrived in Mekelle, Tigray, via the Afar-Abala-Mekelle corridor during the reporting period. As of 21 December, a 20-truck convoy carrying food and nutrition supplies is still waiting in Abala Town, the last entry point in Afar into Mekelle, due to operational and security issues. Since 12 July, 1,338 trucks entered the region, or less than 12 per cent of the required supplies to meet the humanitarian needs.

Due to fuel scarcity in Tigray, some partners have suspended food dispatch since 10 December, and they will be forced to suspend distribution from 25 December onwards if no additional fuel is made available. As of 20 December, food partners have only around 30,000 litres of fuel left in the region. At least 120,000 litres of fuel are needed to dispatch around 8,000 MT of food currently available in Mekelle. This excludes fuel requirements for partners’ day-to-day operations.

UNHAS operated two flights between Addis Ababa and Mekelle during the reporting period. A limited amount of operational cash was transferred on UNHAS flights, but this remains insufficient to support operations and provide a meaningful response.

The conflict in Northern Ethiopia continues to have a devastating and increasing toll on civilian infrastructure, including health facilities, schools, roads, bridges, water schemes, and electricity system having a direct consequence on people’s lives. The Ala Weha bridge between Woldiya and Kobo in eastern Amhara was reportedly partially destroyed between 18 and 19 December. Another bridge between Haro and Dire Roka, further up the road towards Kobo was also destroyed. The damages to these two bridges have implications on humanitarian organization, as they link a major road and route supply between Tigray and Eastern Amhara.

Amhara Public Health Institute (APHI) reported that over 418 health centers, 1,706 health posts, 35 hospitals, 4 blood banks and 52 ambulances were reportedly damaged due to the conflict and more than 7,000 health workers are displaced. Some 1.5 million women and children need urgent essential health services and more than 45,000 children under five missed routine immunization services. Similarly, some 91 health facilities, including one hospital and 23 clinics, have been looted or damaged in Zones 1, 4 and 5 in Afar. Meanwhile, electricity has been restored in Semera and Logia towns in Afar over the weekend. With some interruptions, electricity is restored in Dessie and Kombolcha towns in Amhara, while water lines are functioning in both towns. Dessie Hospital started providing some basic health services.

Based on available data, the admission of children under five years with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) to therapeutic feeding program in Afar increased by 16.5 per cent in October 2021 compared to the same period last year (October 2020), showing a deterioration of the malnutrition situation in the region. The food security situation in the ten woredas in Afar, bordering Tigray, will expected to further deteriorate leading to a spike in malnutrition rates. Those woredas are already hosting 50,000 IDPs putting additional pressure on the available resources, while there are very limited relief assistance reaching them. Similarly, increasing malnutrition rates were reported among children under five and pregnant and lactating women due to disruption of markets and lack of access to food sources during the fighting in Dessie and Kombolcha in Amhara.

The conflict has resulted in increased family separation and child protection risks. Between January and November 2021, at least 8,419 (1) unaccompanied and separated children (UASC), including 4,311 girls, living in IDP sites and host communities have been identified and registered in Tigray, Amhara and Afar. Because the children live without parental and/or adult care, they face significant challenges in accessing basic life-saving needs, mainly food, non-food-items, and shelter, including for their household as some of them are heads of households. They are also exposed to higher protection risks. Due to operational constraints low capacity of partners due to lack of fuel, cash, funding, and ongoing conflict, only 728 (2) UASC, including 387 girls, have been reunited with their families since January, representing only about 9 per cent of the total caseload. Additionally, 1,067 (3) UASC (580 girls; 477 boys) have been placed in alternative family-based care arrangement, mainly kinship, and foster care. In Tigray, partners that provide cash support to UASC have run out of cash and are unable to provide reunification packages to families in need. Also, family tracing efforts and reunification have been suspended in Tigray due to the lack of communication networks and shortage of fuel. Furthermore, local protective structures and networks that used to provide support have been disrupted, with some reports of foster families abandoning their charges due to dwindling resources available, particularly in Tigray.

Footnote

  1. 7,165 children identified and registered in Tigray, 1,215 in Amhara and 39 in Afar. Data covered January to November 2021, and the actual number of UASC is estimated to be higher.

  2. Including 331 children in Tigray and 397 in Amhara. No child has been reunified in Afar yet.

  3. Including 1,003 children in Tigray; 25 in Amhara. All 39 children identified in Afar are placed in alternative care.

Disclaimer

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