Ethiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 3 Mar 2022



  • The humanitarian situation in Afar continues to deteriorate with increased displacement and needs.

  • Nutrition supplies for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition among young children airlifted to Tigray, for the first-time since mid-December.

  • No food distribution reported in Tigray between 17 and 23 February, as food and fuel in the region is almost entirely exhausted.

  • More than 283,000 people assisted with food during the reporting week in Dessie and Kombolcha towns and in North Gondar Zone by the UN and INGO partners.

  • A new food distribution cycle has started in Afar targeting more than 622,000 people with more than 18,000 people reached during the week in Yalo, Abala, Barahle and Megale woredas

Situation Overview

The overall situation in northern Ethiopia remains tense and volatile. Although the situation in Tigray and Amhara regions remain relatively calm with fairly static lines of contacts and hostilities occurring in their vicinity, the situation in some parts in Afar continues to deteriorate with armed clashes reported in few locations mainly in Barahle, Erebti, in Kilbeti zone (Zone 2). The ongoing hostilities and shifting lines of contact in Afar continue to hinder sustained humanitarian programming, affect civilian lives, their safety, restrict their access to livelihood, and is notablyincreasing humanitarian needs with a continuing and growing number of displaced people.

An estimated tens of thousands of people of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Afar have returned to their place of origin in Zone 4 as calm had returned to that area. However, a few hundred thousand people have been additionally displaced in Zone 2 due to ongoing hostilities, mainly from Abala, Erebti, Berahale, Megale, and Dalol woredas, according to the regional government authorities. Most of the displaced people are currently sheltering in Dalol, Afdera, Silsa/Guyah and Semera while some IDPs are trapped in remote and hard-to-reach areas. Partners were not able to verify the numbers of IDPs in Zone 2 due to access constraints. An unconfirmed number of IDPs displaced from Afar are also staying in few schools in Tigray.

On 24 February, an interagency mission conducted an assessment at four displacement sites in Afdera town, 200 km north of Semera, to identify the needs of IDPs and the response gaps. The team noted the living conditions were extremely dire at the sites due to insufficient facilities and basic services. The situation has further been exacerbated by new arrivals and a low presence of humanitarian agencies. Few humanitarian agencies, however, have provided urgent assistance to the IDPs including wheat, cooking oil, pulse, heath services, water trucking and household items such as solar lamps, mats, and blankets. There are urgent needs for additional water trucking, construction of additional toilets and provision of waste management services, food, cooking energy, emergency shelter, non-food items, and additional mobile health and nutrition teams along with medical supplies, equipment, and drugs.

On 23 February, a protection needs’ assessment was conducted in Guyah IDP site in Zone 4 in Afar, noting new arrivals daily, mostly women and children. It was noted that only a few IDPs had received food assistance. Two water trucks are providing water supply daily, but this is insufficient to meet the water needs at the site especially with the increasing numbers of new arrivals. There are urgent needs for food, emergency shelter, health, and protection services.

The current blockage of the Semera-Abala-Mekelle route has further exacerbated the flow of humanitarian supplies into Tigray, combined with the limited supplies allowed in before mid-December, mainly due to earlier administrative measures, which were already far below what is needed. Since 12 July, only 8 per cent of the 16,500 trucks with the needed humanitarian supplies entered Tigray. As a result, humanitarian partners continue to reduce their operations. As of 2 March, food partners, for instance, reported they have less than 600 litres of fuel available (excluding contingency stock) and only around 800 MT of food commodities within Tigray.

During the reporting week, humanitarian organizations airlifted 47 MT of medical and nutrition supplies to Mekelle, Tigray, bringing the total supplies airlifted since 24 January to 144 MT. The supplies this week included 10 MT of nutritional supplies (Ready to Use Therapeutic Food - RUTF), the first-time entering Tigray since mid-December, and will be distributed in Mekelle, Eastern and South-Eastern zones to treat severe acute malnutrition among children under five.

Some of the medical supplies airlifted to Mekelle in the previous few weeks were distributed during this reporting week to Wukuro and Adigrat General Hospitals in Eastern Zone; to Adwa, Axum, Abi-Adi General Hospitals and Axum referral hospital in Central Zone; and to Suhul Shire general hospital in North-western Zone. However, lack of fuel remains an obstacle to distributing the remaining supplies. Also, lack of medical supplies and specific types of medications such as anti-retroviral drugs for patients living with HIV and HIV testing kits, anti-rabies drugs, cholera vaccines and trauma kits, remain in shortage in Tigray.

In Amhara, some areas bordering Tigray remain inaccessible and the situation is highly tense including in parts in North Gondar, Wag Hemera and North Wollo zones, with reported sporadic clashes leading to displacement into Zekuala, Sekota, Kobo, and Zarima. It is estimated by the regional authorities that there are more than 40,000 IDPs in Sekota and Zekuala.

A Find-and Treat campaign was conducted in 9 zones between December and January in Amhara, screening more than 1.9 million children under five, of which 21,804 children or 1.1 per cent were identified with severe acute malnutrition (SAM). However, only 22 per cent of SAM cases could be linked to outpatient care due to lack of supplies and infrastructure. The situation in South Gondar and Wag Hemera zones is of particular concern, as the proxy SAM and global acute malnutrition (GAM) are as high as 14 and 50 per cent, respectively, based on the ‘Find-and-Treat’ campaigns conducted in January. As for western Amhara zones, SAM admissions increased by 215 per cent from November to December 2021, with a regional reporting rate of 50.5 per cent.

In Eastern Amhara, the ‘find and treat’ campaign that has been ongoing since 14 February showed that out of the 293,208 children under five screened thus far, 8,160 SAM cases or 2.7 per cent and 48,118 GAM cases or 16.4 per cent were found. Of the 52,828 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers screened, some 21,687 women or 41 per cent, were found to be malnourished.


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