Ethiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 27 January 2022



  • Humanitarian partners in Tigray continue to downsize operations due to the depletion of supplies, fuel, and cash, voicing concerns over ceasing operations by end of February.

  • Zero therapeutic nutrition supplies in Tigray, including for the treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition.

  • A shipment of medical supplies was transported via UNHAS flight to Mekelle on 24 January.

  • More than 523,000 people reached with food assistance during the week under two food distribution rounds in Amhara.

  • More than 60 unaccompanied and separated children, including 27 girls, were identified during the reporting period in Afar.


Situation Overview

The situation in northern Ethiopia remains tense and unpredictable with reported fighting in Afar, including Aradu kebele, Megale, Erebti, Berahle, Dalol and Abala. Fighting was also reported in some areas in Amhara along the border with Tigray, including North Gondar, Wag Hemra, and North Wello zones. In the rest of Amhara Region, the situation remains calm and accessible for humanitarian response. Within Tigray, fighting was reported in south-west of Sheraro Town in Wolkait, Tsegede, and Humera in Western Zone. The hostilities are putting civilians’ lives at risk, increasing the humanitarian needs, and hindering humanitarian access and delivery of aid to Tigray Region via the Semera-Abala-Mekelle corridor as well as to affected areas in Afar and Amhara regions.

The fighting in Afar reportedly led to the displacement of tens of thousands of people in the last few weeks. The displaced people reportedly arrived in three IDP sites in Urukdi, Gube, Erebiti in zone 2, and to Afdera Town. The new caseload of displacement is increasing the needs and adding to the already overstretched humanitarian operations. Unconfirmed number of newly displaced people from Afar and Amhara arrived in Wukro Atsbi and Agulae woredas in Tigray following armed conflict along the border areas with Tigray. Displacement was also reported from North Gondar in Amhara. Food, emergency shelter, non-food items, water and sanitation, and access to medical services were identified as urgent needs for the newly displaced.

Returns of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their places of origin continued to be reported during the week. Mapping of return locations, confirming the number of people returned, and assessing damages in return areas are ongoing. In Afar, some 30,000 IDPs sheltering in Wak/50 and Ewa IDP sites have reportedly returned to Chifra and Ewa woredas. While the majority were voluntary returns, some were returned without consent and without proper livelihood support in return areas, where conditions are still not fit for return with damaged and looted public infrastructures such as water schemes, schools, and health facilities. In Tigray, more than 8,800 IDPs returned to their places of origin in Eastern, Central, Southern, and South-Eastern zones between 8 December 2021 and 23 January 2022. In North-Western Zone, more than 3,300 people have reportedly returned to their homes in Adi Hageray Woreda.

Meanwhile, a shipment of 3.5 MT of medicines arrived in Mekelle by the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) on behalf of one partner (international non-governmental organization) on 24 January. The medical supplies, which include pediatric intravenous cannulas, antibiotics, and potassium chloride tablets, will be used for the primary health care and nutrition program treating severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases among young children, and to be distributed to health and stabilization centres in four districts namely Bezet, Aheferom, Adet (Adwa) and Raya Chercher. It is estimated to benefit around 35,000 people.

No humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigray, via the Semera-Abala-Mekelle corridor since 14 December due to the ongoing fighting in Afar. Overall, 1,338 trucks have entered the region since 12 July, which represents less than 10 per cent of the required supplies needed to meet the vast scale of humanitarian needs of 5.2 million people, or 90 per cent of the population in Tigray. As of 25 January, food partners, for example, have only around 1,000 MT of food commodities within Tigray, out of which, there is only enough stock to feed around 20,000 people with a complete three-commodity common food basket for one round. Nutrition supplies to support targeted and blanket supplementary feeding and treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in Tigray are currently at zero stock balance.

Four tankers carrying more than 155,000 liters of fuel are still awaiting approval in Semera. No fuel for humanitarian operations has been allowed into Tigray since 2 August, except for two WFP trucks. As partners are unable to receive enough fuel loans locally, they had to reduce, postpone, or cancel critical distributions such as food, water, medicine, and nutrition interventions. Water trucking to IDP sites, for instance, was significantly affected by lack of fuel, where about 418,000 IDPs in 131 sites require 295 trips of water trucking every day, which requires 1,990 liters of fuel daily. Currently, humanitarian partners were only able to meet about 19 per cent of the water needs in the IDP sites on average since the beginning of October distributing 2.8 liter of water per day/per person whereas 15 liters are needed per the adequate standard.

All international NGOs operating in Tigray reported on 24 January that they have depleted their fuel stock with their staff delivering the little remaining humanitarian supplies and services on foot, where possible. Similarly, national NGOs, who are reaching a large segment of the population in need in Tigray, are at risk of completely halting operations due to lack of fuel and cash as they have not been able to bring cash since June 2021.

Food partners are facing severe fuel shortages with less than 5,000 litres of fuel (excluding contingency stock) in Tigray as of 25 January. Partners who had been forced to suspend dispatch since more than a month ago were only able to resume on 15 January with some limited amount of fuel allocated by the local authorities. Other partners have suspended food dispatch as their transporters could no longer access fuel locally.

The malnutrition levels among young children in northern Ethiopia continue to be at alarming levels. During the reporting period, more than 4,300 children under five years of age were screened for malnutrition in Tigray of which more than a thousand (1,000) children or 23.7 per cent were identified with proxy global acute malnutrition (GAM), much higher than the global threshold of 15 per cent, and 182 children or 4.2 per cent diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition (SAM), a seriously alarming level. Similarly, about 770 children in Afar were screened for malnutrition of whom 167 or 21.7 per cent were diagnosed with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and 22 or 3.5 per cent were diagnosed with SAM. In Amhara, proxy GAM rate among children under five years has reached 34 per cent.


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