Ethiopia + 1 more

Ethiopia: Situation Report, 1 December 2020

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • The UN and humanitarian partners remain deeply concerned about the plight of nearly 500,000 people, including 200 aid workers, who live in Mekelle as tensions continue to rise.

  • Thousands of people in Tigray region are feared displaced and many reportedly injured. Access to basic services has been disrupted due to insecurity and lack of communications.

  • Verification of needs remains a challenge due to a communication blackout and lack of access to the region.

  • UNHCR and partners in Sudan have warned about the urgent need for additional settlement sites, as the Um Rakuba refugee camp in Gedaref State has reached its maximum capacity.

  • The UN calls for unconditional, full & immediate humanitarian access to the affected people, following Federal Government’s stated commitment to ensuring humanitarian assistance.

BACKGROUND

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Following the Government operation in the city of Mekelle in Tigray Region, humanitarian actors have reported an increase in the number of displacements and injured people. Concerns are growing for the safety of more than 500,000 people living in the city and the wellbeing of the people who are reportedly relying on untreated water to survive due to damage and destruction of water infrastructure, according to media and humanitarian sources.

According to ICRC, several people are living in makeshift camps without food, water or medical care and in fear for their lives due to ongoing insecurity in the area. Several others have fled their homes, leaving their crops and risking food insecurity due to lack of access to basic commodities. Hospitals and primary health-care facilities in northern Ethiopia, in and around areas that have seen intense fighting, are in urgent need of additional medical supplies.

A crucial concern is access to food for the 96,000 refugee population in Tigray. According to UNHCR, humanitarian workers in Shire and Mekelle are unable to access the refugee camps due to the security situation. Food rations for refugee camps were exhausted on Monday, 30 November, due to lack of access to supplies in warehouses inside and outside Tigray.. The last joint general food distribution by World Food Programme (WFP), Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and UNHCR was supplied for two months (October and November), and UNHCR estimates that at most three days of food supplies is left in the camps. UNHCR is advocating for access to the Tigray Region and the refugee camps to deliver these rations.

Communication blackout, power outage, and banking restrictions continue to impede humanitarian response to the rising needs. Aid workers in the region have reported that lack of fuel and movement restrictions are impending both business continuity and humanitarian response. Thousands of people have been separated from their families and this is complicated by the network breakdown that has made tracing difficult. Immediate unhindered humanitarian access is needed to bring in lifesaving support, including fuel supplies to run vehicles and generators, as well as cash to support vulnerable Persons of Concern, according to UNHCR.

The safety and security of aid workers, as well as the population at large remains a big concern for humanitarians. More than 100 aid workers are reportedly still unaccounted for, since the fighting began and organizations are working to reestablish contact with team members, many of whom were forced to flee when conflict erupted. ICRC has reported that three ambulances belonging to the Ethiopian Red Cross have been attacked since the fighting started, a disturbing trend as it signals lack of respect and protection for first responders and humanitarian actors.

Security incidents have also been reported in other regions of Ethiopia, impacting access and needs assessments. DTM's Event Tracking Tool has recorded 85,462 IDPs in Konso zone. The priority needs cited by the displaced people include water, medical services, sanitation and hygiene, shelter, non-food items, food, livelihoods and cash.

In the western part of the country, the security situation is reportedly deteriorating, with recent conflicts in Guliso displacing inhabitants. An inter-agency mission planned in Metekel has been suspended due to insecurity.

In the eastern part (the Hararges) the security situation seems to be escalating due to the conflict between the Afari and the Issa community in Afar and in Somali region.

The UN and humanitarians continue to negotiate with all parties to the conflict for unconditional, full and immediate humanitarian access to reach people in need, following the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission released a new statement which calls on the Federal Government to restore communications and provision of basic services (including humanitarian supplies),set up the logistical and humanitarian infrastructure necessary to reconnect separated families and support returns, and allow access to independent and transparent investigations into conducts of grave human rights violations.

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