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Ethiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 9 Dec 2021

Situation Report
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Large scale displacement continues to be reported from conflict-affected areas in Amhara, Afar and Western Tigray.
Between 1 and 7 December, only 44 trucks with humanitarian supplies arrived in Mekelle. Fuel and medications cargo are still not allowed to join the humanitarian convoy.

Between 25 November-1 December, only about 43,000 people were assisted with food in Tigray under the current food distribution round, including more than 10,000 newly displaced.

Partners resumed support to three hospitals and 19 health centres in Amhara. In addition to 26 mobile health and nutrition teams providing health services in the region.

About 16,000 people received food assistance and more than 26,000 displaced people received WASH NFIs in Afar. 30 mobile health and nutrition teams are operating in the region.


Situation Overview

The situation in northern Ethiopia continues to be highly fluid and unpredictable with ongoing fighting in multiple locations significantly impacting the humanitarian access and response. The active conflict continues to increasehumanitarian needs due to displacement, loss of livelihoods, and lack of access to markets, food, and basic services.

Large scale displacement continues to be reported from conflict-affected areas in Amhara Region, including tens of thousands of people displaced from Shewa Robit Town in North Shewa Zone (Amhara) to Samurobi, Hadelela and Dalefage woredas in Zone 5 in Afar Region. Several thousands of people were also displaced from Woldiya and Lalibela towns to Meket Woreda in North Wello Zone in Amhara. An undetermined number of IDPs have moved back from Dessie and Kombolcha to rural areas in North and South Wollo zones in Amhara after the cessation of hostilities to attend to their harvests.

Meanwhile, in Afar Region a few thousand people were displaced within Adar Woreda in Zone 1; while,in Tigray Region, since 20 November, tens of thousands of people are estimated to be displaced from Western Zone to North-Western Zone.

Between 1 and 7 December, 44 trucks of humanitarian supplies arrived in Mekelle, Tigray via the Afar-Abala-Mekelle corridor compared to 157 trucks a week earlier (24-30 November). The cargo carried more than 1900 MT of food, nutrition, and WASH supplies. This brings the total number of trucks that entered Tigray since 12 July to 1,317 trucks and represents 13 per cent of the required supplies to meet the humanitarian needs in the region.

Fuel has not arrived in Tigray via the Afar route since 2 August, with eight tankers currently in Semera (Afar) waiting for clearance to proceed. The fuel shortage in Tigray is significantly affecting partners’ ability to transport food items to areas for distribution as well as conducting monitoring activities. At least 150,000 liters of fuel are needed to dispatch around 10,000 MT of food currently available in Mekelle. WASH partners require 2,200 litres of fuel daily to make more than 300 water truck trips to reach about 418,000 displaced people. Overall, humanitarian partners require at least 282,000 liters of fuel every week to fully carry out their operations in Tigray. In addition to not receiving adequate humanitarian assistance, the population is directly affected due to lack of fuel by inadequate provision of basic services, including health, water, and sanitation, electricity interruption, limited transportation, and limited access to livelihoods and markets.

Similarly, medicines and medical equipment have not been allowed to enter Tigray except for limited essential medicines via the second ECHO flight on 6 October and limited emergency kits via Afar between July and September. Humanitarian partners estimate 2.3 million people targeted for health interventions in Tigray, half of them are children, according to the Northern-Ethiopia Response Plan. Essential medical equipment, supplies, vaccines, and basic medicines, including cholera kits, antibiotics, anti-malaria medicines are urgently needed. Health partners in Tigray have gradually reduced the mobile health and nutrition teams (MHNTs) services by nearly 65 per cent from 57 MHNTs to 21 due to lack of medical supplies, fuel, and cash in the last few months. In Amhara, more than 500 health facilities, and more than 1,700 health posts are reportedly damaged and/or looted due to the conflict. In Afar, only 94 health facilities, or 22 per cent of the 414 facilities, are functional.

UNHAS operated two flights between Addis Ababa and Mekelle during the reporting period. It now operates two flights per week since it resumed regular on 24 November. Passengers reported heavy searches at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. UN and humanitarian partners were able to transfer a limited amount of operational cash. Partners estimate that at least ETB 300 million (about US$6.2 million) is required each week to sustain operations. Since 12 July, 435 million Ethiopia Birr (ETB), or equivalent to about US$9.5 million, of cash has been cleared to move to Tigray for humanitarian operations.

This is only about 7 per cent of the required cash to meet the operational needs. The ETB 2 million ceiling for cash for each organization per UNHAS flight remains in place and has proven insufficient to sustain operations at scale.
In Amhara, a joint assessment mission was conducted to Dessie and Kombolcha between 27 and 29 November to assess humanitarian needs and gauge the humanitarian access. Damage and looting of public services were observed, depriving the populations living in the two towns of accessing critical and life-saving services, including heath facilities. Electricity, water supply, communications, banking system are not available in the area. Electrical supply, however, has resumed in Kombolcha on 29 November after operating two generators. Markets and public transportation are not functioning as the main roads from Addis Ababa and Afar are blocked by ongoing fighting. Currently, few partners are on the ground in the two towns and their ability to respond beyond food assistance is hampered by limited supplies available, including medicines, fuel, and cash.

Also in Amhara, a rapid assessment was conducted by humanitarian partners in Mekane Selam Town, South Wollo Zone on 2 and 3 December. According to the regional authorities, there are an estimated 17,000 displaced people, mostly from North Wollo and South Wollo zones, currently in town, including about 4,000 people previously displaced from Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz. The majority of IDPs are living with the host community, while two schools in town are used as shelters for the displaced. After visiting the two IDP sites, the assessment team noted the need to provide water, shelter, sanitation, and medicine support. There has been no electrical supply since early October following the damage of the distribution point at Akesta (a town that lies between Dessie and Mekane Selam) and alternative power solutions are limited.

In Afar, the ongoing conflict has affected more than 1.3 million people in four zones and 21 Woredas in the region and displaced a few hundred thousand people, according to the regional authorities. According to a recent assessment mission to two IDP sites (Waranso and Wake50 IDP sites in Chifra and Adarar Woredas), priority needs among the displaced population are food, water, emergency shelter, non-food items, health care services, nutrition, protection including reunification with missing family members, livelihood opportunities.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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