Ethiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 31 Mar 2022



In Amhara, the regional Government authorities continued with the relocation of internally displaced people.
The number scabies cases in Tigray increased eight-fold from about 400 cases since the start of the year to more than 3,100 cases during the reporting week.

Partners provided health services to only more than 26,500 people in Tigray during the reporting week. 3.9 million people are estimated to need health care in the region.

Humanitarian partners reached more than 62,000 people with food assistance in Afar and more than 7,700 people with medical consultations during the reporting week.

Humanitarian partners reached more than 726,000 people with food assistance in Amhara during the reporting period.

Situation Overview

The overall situation in northern Ethiopia remains tense and unpredictable. The situation in Tigray and Amhara regions remained generally calm during the reporting period, while sporadic armed clashes were reported in Kilbet/Zone 2 in Afar region including in Gubi Kebele in Abala woreda, and Sokardora Kebele in Konnabe woreda. Daily displacements were reported in six woredas in Zone 2 in Afar with constrained access to those areas hampering efforts to reach affected populations with assistance.

In Amhara, the situation along areas bordering Tigray, namely in Wag Hamra, North Wello and North Gondar zones, remains volatile. Severallocations remain hard to reach for partners’ operations, including Abergele, Tsagibji kebeles as well as well as some parts of Zequala kebeles in Wag Hamra Zone, large parts of Kobo in North Wello Zone, and in Addi Arekay in North Gondar Zone.

The Semera-Abala-Mekelle route has remained closed for more than 100 days, since mid-December, hindering the movement of humanitarian convoys and the flow of humanitarian supplies into Tigray. Combined with the limited supplies allowed in before the road closure, mainly due to earlier administrative measures, stocks in Tigray have become minimal forcing humanitarian partners to either reduce their operations significantly or halt them. In February, 41 partners (7 UN agencies, 17 INGOs, 14 NNGOs and 3 Government partners) operating in Tigray down from 47 partners in January. All partners, including those who halted their programs due to lack of supplies, cash, and fuel, remain in Tigray, and are on standby to resume or scale up operations once the constrains are eased.

Meanwhile, between 22 and 28 March, humanitarian partners airlifted 38.8 metric tons (MT) of nutrition supplies to Mekelle, Tigray. No medical supplies airlifted during the reporting week, but there are supplies under clearance process to be airlifted soon. The total amount of supplies airlifted since the first cargo flight on 24 January and as of 28 March totals 361.7 MT, including 260.6 MT of nutrition supplies and 101.1 MT of medical supplies. This is about 9 trucks with humanitarian supplies.

The airlifts, however, remain limited to low quantities between 5 and 13 MT per flight and prioritized to the most urgent supplies, and therefore the gap between the needs on the ground and the supplies airlifted remains significant. It is estimated that only four per cent of the medications required to meet the health needs for the year have reached Tigray so far thanks to the airlift’s rotations. Dispatching available supplies, particularly to remote and rural areas, remain a challenge due to lack of fuel available to partners. As the fuel shortages have reached critical levels, partners are resorting to alternative options to carry out critical operations.

The pervasiveness of scabies continues to be a major concern in Tigray, with cases increasing eight-fold 384 cases at identified at the start of the year to more than 3,100 identified cases during the reporting week. Most cases are recorded among internally displaced people (IDPs) at displacement sites. Despite ongoing efforts to respond to the increased scabies cases, the situation remains challenging, hindered by compounding issues such as overcrowding and poor living conditions, and lack of effective medications. So far, health partners have been responding to the situation mostly at IDP sites in Mekelle, Adwa and Shire, through awareness raising campaigns. Partners used expired Permetrin ointment as a remedy alongside other inefficient treatments as no alternative drug supplies are available. While sufficient healthcare response is essential to end the outbreak, scaling up of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), healthcare services and improved living conditions at IDP sites, as well as strengthening medication delivery to Tigray are key to contain this issue in a more durable manner.

Between 25 and 27 March, an inter-agency field visit was conducted to Adigrat and Erob in Eastern Zone in Tigray to appraise the humanitarian situation and to identify the gap in the humanitarian response programming. In Adigrat, the team assessed the humanitarian situation as extremely dire for both the host community members and the 78,000 IDPs living in IDP sites. Food insecurity is severe, and people have managed to cope resorting to negative survival mechanisms, including children engaged in begging and survival sex. Similarly, in Erob, with a population of 52,000 and more than 9,000 IDPs recently displaced from hard-to-reach areas in the Zone, people are facing extreme hardship, with no food or medical supplies that have reached the woreda since July 2021. Most of the population in Erob are severely food insecure. Displaced and non-displaced people in both Adigrat and Erob urgently need food, nutrition, and medical assistance.

The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flights continues to operate two flights per week between Addis Ababa and Mekelle in Tigray. On 29 March 13 humanitarian partners received Ethiopian Birr 37 million (about US$721,000) of operational cash via UNHAS flight to Mekelle. This was the first delivery of cash since 10 March. The cash allowed to be transferred remains below the amount of cash needed to support operations and programs and provide a meaningful response at the required scale.

In Amhara, the regional Government authorities continued with the relocation of IDPs. To date, and since 14 March, it has relocated at least 12,000 people out of an estimated 58,000 registered IDPs planned for relocation from Kobo in North Wollo Zone to Jara, near Weldiya, the zonal capital. In Wag Hamra, about 1,800 IDPs have been relocated to Weleh IDP site so far, out of the estimated 14,000 IDPs planned for relocation in the zone. In North Shewa Zone, the authorities indicated the allocation of land to support site establishment and to facilitate relocation of IDPs. While regional authorities and few humanitarian partners are constructing basic facilities at the relocation sites and providing essential assistance including food, there is still a huge gap in meeting the needs and setting-up proper camp structures mainly emergency shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition services, and non-food items.

Meanwhile, in Afar, needs assessment visit conducted in Afdera and Silsa Guyha IDP sites, where there are currently six sites managed by humanitarian partners in the two woredas, with a total of more than 34,000 people. While limited shelters and non-food items (NFIs) provided to the IDPs, a huge gap persist with provision of food, shelter, drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, education service, primary health care, and NFIs, including dignity kits for women and girls, are urgently required.


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