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Ethiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 4 Nov 2021

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • No humanitarian supplies have arrived into Tigray since 18 October.
  • Movement of humanitarian workers in and out of Tigray by road has been denied since 28 October, while movement within Amhara and Afar regions is restricted.
  • Lack of fuel significantly reduced life-saving operations in Northern Ethiopia, including water trucking, food distribution, nutrition, health and protection services.
  • Only nine of 46 WASH partners were able to operate during the reporting period in Tigray, and at reduced capacity.
  • Only 20,000 people received food assistance in Amhara during the reporting period due to access constraints.

Situation Overview

The humanitarian situation in Northern Ethiopia is rapidly deteriorating, with severe impact on civilians, and ongoing fighting in multiple locations in North Gonder, Wag Hemra, North and South Wello zones reportedly leading to large-scale displacement and preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Hostilities also continued in Tigray Region. On 28 October, two airstrikes were carried out in Mekelle, killing six people, including at least two women and two children, according to hospital officials and records. Twenty-four people (12 women), including seven children (three girls) were also injured. At least nine houses were destroyed or severely damaged.

The restrictions imposed on the delivery of humanitarian supplies into Tigray via the only route through Afar (Semera-Abala-Mekelle) is still in place. Since 18 October, no convoy movement of trucks with humanitarian supplies have moved into Tigray. Some369 trucks are on hold in Semera, pending authorization from the authorities to proceed. Overall, 1,114 or 15 per cent of the trucks needed have entered the region since 12 July. An estimated 100 trucks with food, non-food items, and fuel must enter Tigray daily to meet critical humanitarian needs.

Similarly, fuel needed for the humanitarian response has not entered Tigray since early August. Sixteen fuel tankers (45,000 liters/each) in Semera are waiting for permission to move. Only 12 trucks of fuel (approximately 282,000 liters) entered the region since 12 July. This is enough to carry out humanitarian operations for one week only.

Food partners resumed the dispatch food on 25 October with some support from private transporters after the temporarily suspension by five out of the seven main food partners due to lack of fuel. As a result, between 21-27 October, nearly 74,000 people were assisted with food under Round 2, only 8.5 per cent of the at least 870,000 people to be assisted on average per week to serve 5.2 million people within a six-week cycle.

Lack of fuel as well as cash have also significantly affected the capacity of partners responding to WASH needs. Out of 46 partners, only nine continue to respond with reduced capacity. Water trucking operations are particularly affected. Some 918 trips of water trucking (20m3) are needed to serve 1.2 million targeted IDPs, requiring 4,873 liters of fuel daily. Currently there are only 19 trucks partially operational. Consequently, the quantity of water via water trucking was reduced to some IDP sites. Rehabilitation of permanent water schemes is also affected. An estimated 2.3 million people have no access to safe drinking water in rural areas as a result.

Protection services are now limited to Mekelle and Shire due to lack of fuel, cash and supplies, reaching only 250,000 to 300,000 IDPs out of the targeted 1.4 million people. As a result, more than 22,500 IDPs that were targeted for medical response to gender-based violence (GBV), and social work services will not be assisted. This puts them at risk of life-threatening physical, psychological, and health consequences. More than 148,000 people will not receive mental and psychosocial support. Nearly 150,000 women and girls of reproductive age will not also receive dignity kits. Some 864,0000 people accessing GBV risk mitigation, prevention, and response services will no longer benefit from the services. Meanwhile, family tracing and reunification services are suspended due to lack of cash and fuel. Therefore, only 232 unaccompanied and separated children, including 105 girls were reunified with their parents and primary caregivers so far, since the start of the conflict, which is very low compared to the planned target to reunite 7,000 children.

Lack of essential medical equipment, supplies, vaccines and medicines is affecting the health situation in Tigray. It is estimated that 80 per cent of essential medication is no longer available while most health facilities are not functional due to damage and lack of supplies. Meanwhile, more than 887,000 children under the age of five need polio oral vaccination and more than 790,000 children need measles vaccination. Disease surveillance indicate high cases of malaria and dysentery. At least 1,200 cases of scabies are reported in the past four weeks, the vast majority in Shire IDP sites. Health partners opted to use 60,000 doses of expired drugs for scabies for the next two months after passing chemical analysis inspections. In addition to vaccines, essential medicines and medical supplies are urgently needed, including antibiotics, cholera kits, interagency emergency health kits, malaria and scabies medicines, kits for treating children with severe acute, and reproductive health kits.

The movement of humanitarian workers in and out of Tigray via Afar road, and since the suspension of UNHAS flights on 22 October, has been restricted. On 29 and 31 October, 14 humanitarian workers travelling from Semera to Mekelle were denied transit at the Serdo checkpoint where further authorization letters and permissions were asked for. The movement of humanitarian workers within Amhara and Afar regions has also been restricted. The suspension of UNHAS flights also affected the availability of cash required to maintain humanitarian operations. Cash was last transported to the region on 16 October.

The humanitarian situation in Afar and Amhara regions is rapidly deteriorating as conflict expands in multiple locations.In Amhara, intensive fighting and hostilities in and around Dessie and Kombolcha in South Wello Zone on 30-31 October resulting in increased humanitarian needs with large number of IDPs reportedly moving towards Kemissie and Ataye. Dessie and Kombolcha were already hosting a large number of IDPs from nearby Habru and Kutaber Woredas. Regional authorities reported that the vast majority of displaced people are living with the host community, while the remaining are living in crowded collective centers, including schools. Armed clashes also reported in several areas in North Gonder, Waghimra, and North Wello zones.

The delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance has been hampered by ongoing insecurity as well as the limited presence of humanitarian partners in Amhara Region. Electricity and telecommunications have been cut in Dessie and Kombolcha since 30 October and commercial flights to Kombolcha suspended since mid-October. Business activities and transport services were also reportedly stopped.

An increasing number of people are likely to require emergency food assistance in Amhara due to continued disruption of livelihoods, displacements and increased food prices. An estimated 1.4 million children under five years and pregnant and lactating women would need nutrition interventions. More than 360,000 children under five require oral polio vaccination, while nearly 30,000 people living with HIV require sustained medical treatment. It is estimated that four million people require agriculture support by the end of the year.

In Afar, ongoing fighting was reported in Chifra in Zone 4 and surrounding areas, causing additional displacements and hindering the delivery of humanitarian assistance. It is estimated that approximately 534,000 people in zones 1, 2 and 4 need of food assistance.

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