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Ethiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 30 Sept 2021

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Situation Report
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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Malnutrition among pregnant and lactating women screened during the week is unprecedently high with 79% of some 15,000 women diagnosed with acute malnutrition in Tigray.

  • Huge price hike due to severe shortages of essential commodities in Tigray.

  • Some 126,000 people received food (half the number of people reached the prior week), of whom 52% received only 2 kg of pulses due to reduced supplies.

  • Between 23 and 25 September, 33 trucks with food commodities entered Tigray, and 35 empty trucks returned to Semera from Mekelle to carry more food stock back into the region.

  • Humanitarian partners continue to scale up response in Afar and Amhara regions.

KEY FIGURES

5.2M People in need

5.2M People targeted

63,110 Refugees in Sudan since 7 November

BACKGROUND

Disclaimer

OCHA Ethiopia prepares this report with the support of Cluster Coordinators. The data/information collected covers the period from 21-28 September. In some cases, access and communication constraints mean that updates for the period are delayed. The next issue of the sitrep will be published on 7 October. The report is expanded to cover Amhara and Afar regions.

BACKGROUND

Situation Overview

The humanitarian situation in Tigray remains dire, while the spillover of the conflict to neighboring Amhara and Afar regions is rapidly increasing the humanitarian needs and the number of internally displaced people (IDPs). The delivery of humanitarian supplies to the Tigray Region remains heavily constrained via the only access route to the region (Semera-Abala-Mekelle corridor). Access to some areas in Afar and Amhara regions also remains restricted due to conflict and insecurity.

During the week (21-28 September), 79 trucks of humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigray via Afar. This brings the number of humanitarian trucks that entered the region since 12 July to 606 trucks, or 11 per cent of the trucks needed. Humanitarian partners estimate that 100 trucks with food, non-food items, and fuel must enter Tigray every day to meet the needs on the ground.

The humanitarian trucks that arrived during the week included food, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection and mixed cargo items. Fuel and medical supplies are still denied entry into Tigray. Lack of fuel is one of the major impediments for delivering humanitarian assistance. The last fuel tanker entered Tigray on 29 July, over 8 weeks ago, while eight tankers in Semera (Afar) are pending Government approval. Consequently, several UN and NGO partners had to severely reduce or suspend humanitarian response activities, programs and needs assessments.

The last supplies of medicines allowed into Tigray was end of July. In addition, health partners have not been able to rehabilitate and re-equip health facilities following the systematic looting by parties to the conflict. With lack of essential medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic equipment, coupled with limited access to essential humanitarian assistance and services, increasing numbers of children, women and people with chronic diseases are at grave risk unless the restrictions placed on essential medical supplies is lifted immediately. Generators, ITC equipment, and office furniture have still not been allowed to transit to Tigray.

Commercial supplies remain blocked since 28 June, leading to severe shortages of essential commodities in the private markets leading to a huge rise in prices. This is compounded by significantly reduced purchasing power among vulnerable households due to loss of livelihoods, including non-payment of salaries for civil servants since June. Essential commodities like cooking oil has increased by 400 per cent, salt by 300 per cent, rice by 100 per cent and teff by 90 per cent, while the price of a liter of petrol in the black market has reportedly reached 300 Ethiopia Birr (ETB) from 28 ETB in early July.

UNHAS continues to operate two passenger flights per week between Addis Ababa and Mekelle, with 17 flights having operated to date since July. Passengers reported moderate searches at Addis Ababa airport on departure and arrival during the reporting period.

On 21 September, and after extensive additional repairs and reinforcement, parts of the Tekeze bridge, connecting Shire to May-Tsebri, Laelay Tselemti, and Tselmti Woredas in North Western Zone are now usable for vehicles, including heavy trucks. This will allow partners to transport humanitarian supplies across the bridge, opening the possibility of a second humanitarian supply route to the Tigray region. The bridge was destroyed in early July.

The severity of food-insecurity continues to increase, with at least 5.2 million people targeted for emergency food assistance in Tigray. According to WFP, Tigray has one of the highest prevalence of insufficient food consumption in the country, which has risen from 5 to 21 per cent between June and September 2021. The nutrition situation is also critical. Screenings for malnutrition during the reporting period indicate unprecedented high levels of moderate malnutrition (MAM) among pregnant and lactating women. Of the more than 15,000 pregnant and lactating women screened during the reporting period, more than 12,000 women, or about 79 per cent, were diagnosed with acute malnutrition reaching about 79 per cent. MAM level among children under five years is also exceeding global emergency threshold of 15 per cent, at about 18 per cent, while cases of children with severe malnutrition is 2.4 per cent, above the alarming 2 per cent level.

The spillover of the conflict into neighboring Afar and Amhara regions continues to affect civilians with increased food insecurity, increased displacement, and disruption of livelihoods. In Afar, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people are directly affected by the conflict, including an estimated tens of thousands who are displaced and need urgent humanitarian assistance.

Similarly, the humanitarian situation in Amhara continues to deteriorate due to the active conflict along the Tigray regional border further increasing the number of IDPs, reportedly reaching a few hundred thousands across North Gondar, Central Gondar, South Gondar and North Wello.

Over 1,660 primary and secondary schools or 17 per cent of the total schools in Amhara and two colleges are reportedly completely or partially damaged by conflict, which directly affected over 1.2 million children (50 per cent girls), according to the Regional Education Bureau.

Despite challenges, including limited presence of humanitarian partners, limited or no access to some areas due to conflict and insecurity, and limited resources, partners continue to scale up the response and to support the regional authorities-led response efforts in both Afar and Amhara regions (see further details on the response below).

In addition to the conflict-related negative humanitarian consequences, FAO’s latest Desert Locust Update issued on 23 September indicated that new summer-bred immature swarms have started to form between the Awash and Mille river in Afar Region. The scale of the breeding is currently not known as most places are inaccessible by ground and the No-Fly Zone impedes survey and control aircraft from collecting data. Nonetheless, breeding is likely to continue in the coming weeks and extend to other areas of Afar and adjacent areas of southeast Tigray and eastern Amhara, potentially impacting the harvest. Despite the prediction of dry conditions for the rest of the year, the below-average rains should be sufficient to allow swarms to mature and lay eggs, which will hatch and give rise to hopper bands. Operations in northern Ethiopia, therefore, need to be increased and scaled up to prevent further deterioration in food security.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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