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Ethiopia - Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 11 December 2020

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HIGHLIGHTS

Fighting continues between Federal forces and the Tigray People's Liberation Front, and affiliated militias on both sides, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The conflict has driven a dire shortage of vital supplies, including food, water, fuel and cash, seriously affecting people in the whole region, including hundreds of aid workers.

The lack of medical supplies is hampering healthcare workers’ ability to support people and disrupting critical services, including for women who are pregnant or giving birth.

The situation is also dire for people fleeing the conflict towards Afar. Food prices doubled or tripled in most areas and women are now forced to travel up to 25 km to fetch water.

The UN is engaging at the highest levels w/ the Government to work out operational details, including security, to guarantee acess for humanitarian workers & supplies into Tigray.

BACKGROUND

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Dire shortages of vital supplies, including food, water, fuel and cash are seriously affecting people in the whole Tigray Region, including hundreds of aid workers based in the area. In multiple parts of Tigray, people have gone more than a month without electricity, running water, acess to cash and telecommunication services.
The lack of essential medical supplies is reportedly hampering healthcare workers’ ability to support the population and disrupting critical services, including for women who are pregnant or giving birth, according to aid workers in Tigray. There are unverified reports that several women have died during childbirth in Mekelle as a result of the lack of medical support.

ICRC Director-General Robert Mardini tweeted on 9 December that Ayder, the main hospital in Tigray’s capital Mekelle is paralyzed as doctors and nurses had to suspend intensive care services and are struggling to do routine care like delivering babies or providing dialysis treatment. Mardini also told reporters that a joint ICRC-Ethiopian Red Cross convoy with supplies for hundreds of wounded people is ready to go to Mekelle, pending approval.
Humanitarians are increasingly concerned for their safety and wellbeing of the 96,000 refugees that live in Tigray. The lack of access and communication shut down, aid workers have not been able to verify the current conditions in the camps.

Food stocks for refugees have run out by now and other services such as water and health will be heavily affected if staff cannot access the camps, and fuel and cash is not available. Without replenishing of supplies, vital services in the camps will stop. In addition, UNHCR and partners received reports of refugees moving out of the camps in search of assistance and safety in different towns, including in Mekelle, Shire, and Addis.

The situation is also dire for people fleeing the conflict towards Afar. Preliminary findings from an inter-agency mission conducted between 2 and 8 december in Afar areas bordering Tigray indicates that thousands of people displaced by the conflict need immediate assistance. Water, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as medical supplies and attention, are among the immediate priorities of people newly displaced or affected by the conflict. Power and fuel shortages have forced health facilities to close, leaving people, particurlaly pregnant women, without any services closer than 400 km away. In addition, telecommunications remain down in the areas neighbouring Tigray, posing obstacles to any person to call ambulances or other emergency services. Food prices in the market have more than doubled or tripled in most areas. In some places, including in Abaala and Galaiso, women are now forced to travel up to 25 km to fetch water, exposing themselves to highetened risks of gender and sexual violence.

The conflict continue to force people from their homes. Nearly 63,600 people have now been recorded as internally displaced, including some who fled towards Afar and Amhara, according to humanitarians on the ground. This information is, however, preliminary and numbers are expected to change if access to the region is allowed and further information becomes available.

Across Tigray, fighting continues between Federal forces and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), and affiliated militias on both sides, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said, on 9 December, that OHCHR has corroborated information of gross human rights violations and abuses and serious violations of international humanitarian law, including indiscriminate attacks that have resulted in civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, looting, abductions and sexual violence against women and girls, as well as reports of forced recruitment of Tigrayan youth to fight against their own communities. There are also reports of aid workers killed during the conflict in Tigray.
Meanwhile, the UN and humanitarians continue to urgently call on all parties to the conflict to allow unconditional, unfettered and safe humanitarian access to the whole region. The efforts to guarantee access to the region have been further delayed after the spokesperson for the Federal Government of Ethiopia confirmation that a UN team was “shot at and detained” while in the vicinity of Shimelba refugee camp in Tigray region. The team was carrying out a road and security assessment in the area, as part of our preparations to scale up the humanitarian response in Tigray and send in humanitarian convoys with personnel and supplies.

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