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Ethiopia - Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 17 June 2021

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HIGHLIGHTS

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) shows that over 350,000 people are already facing catastrophic conditions (IPC 5).

Since the Northern Ethiopia response plan on 1 May, over 2.3 million people were reached with food aid out of the targeted 5.2 million, reaching additional 654,000 people last week

More than 500 cases of gender-based violence, including rape, officially reported in May. About 70 cases are against girls under 18.

Some 5,500 displaced people sheltering at Axum University were moved to relocation sites in Shire.

Partners continue to access previously hard-to-reach areas, particularly in rural remote areas, mapping dozens of locations with unexploded ordnances and remnants of war.

BACKGROUND

Disclaimer

This report is prepared by OCHA Ethiopia with the support of Cluster Coordinators. The data/information collected covers the period from 5 -11 June. In some cases, access and communication constraints mean that updates for the period are delayed. The next issue, covering the period from 12-18 June will be issued on 24 June 2021.

BACKGROUND

Situation Overview

The overall security and access situation remain complex and extremely fluid. Armed clashes and sporadic fighting reported in Central, South-Eastern, Eastern, North-Western, and Southern Zones. Incidents of arbitrary denial of access, intimidation of humanitarian workers as well as looting and confiscation of humanitarian supplies, trucks and equipment by armed forces continued.

In South-Eastern Zone, food aid convoys continue to be denied access to Wajirat Woreda, for over a month now. In NorthWestern Zone, on 11 June, four clearly marked trucks belonging to an INGO were forced by Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) to carry military equipment while returning from offloading humanitarian supplies to some affected communities. Earlier, on 22 May, an INGO truck carrying 500 non-food items kits, flour and water treatment chemicals (chlorine) - funded by the Ethiopian Humanitarian Fund – was seized by ENDF. At the time of writing, the relief cargo is yet to be retrieved. OCHA is engaged with the Northern Command to release it.

In Eastern Zone, three trucks belonging to a national NGO were seized by Eritrea National Defense Forces (ErDF) in Hawzen, Eastern Zone, and reportedly used for military purposes. These acts constitute potential violations of International Humanitarian Law as humanitarian personnel and assets must be protected. The use of partners’ vehicles and assets by parties to the conflict risk compromising the perception of these actors as “neutral” and putting aid workers and relief cargos in danger.
On a positive note, previous denials of movements to relief agencies by Amhara Special Forces at Embamadre checkpoint, North-Western Zone, and by ENDF at Agulae checkpoint, Eastern Zone, has improved over the past week.

Levels of food insecurity and malnutrition, which are already at catastrophic levels in some areas, will deteriorate further to the risk of substantial famine, if not addressed immediately. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report released on 10 June shows that over 350,000 people are already facing catastrophic conditions (IPC 5) of food insecurity and more than 1.8 million people are in emergency level (IPC 4) in Tigray and adjacent locations in Amhara and Afar affected by the conflict in May and June. Following the release of the findings, FAO, WFP and UNICEF jointly called for urgent action to address the dramatic acute food insecurity.

In a joint statement on 10 June, the European Union and the United States reiterated their call for unfettered humanitarian access to all parts of Tigray. All parties to the conflict, as well as the international community, need to act urgently to avert a large-scale famine and the potential for this crisis to destabilize the broader Horn of Africa region, the statement said.

During the reporting period, partners carried joint assessment missions to several areas in Central Zone. On 8 and 9 June, OCHA, UNHCR, and UNICEF visited Hahayle, Tahtay Maychew and Lealay Maychew Woredas. On 7 June, OCHA, UNICEF, Save the Children, and USAID visited Ahferom and Enticho Woredas. Findings indicated limited or no health services, water system is partially or non-functional with limited water trucking services, lack of bank services, limited farming activities due to insecurity, shortage of agricultural inputs, and schools are looted. In some areas, a local NGO distributed one-time food ration for two months, while WFP distributed some nutrition supplies for children under 5 years of age, as well as pregnant and lactating women. IDPs and host community did not receive any food aid in some other areas. In Abi Adi Woreda, food was an urgent need in all sites visited, with risk of starvation in Adi Woyane, Gelebeda, Keyh Tekli and Arena (Jawamara). In some areas in Central Zone, people are walking up to 30 km to reach to the nearest food distribution point.

In Eastern Zone, an inter-agency assessment mission to Edagahamus and Frewyni IDP sites noted severe lack of food, lack of non-food items, shelter, water trucking, hygiene and waste management, with no assistance provided since the start of the conflict due to lack of access. Families are negatively coping with the severe food insecurity including children begging for food. IDPs are also exposed to protection risks with no safe shelters available. Some 4500 children in both sites are out of school.

In Western Tigray, recent missions did not face any security related access constraints in a sign that the conflict is over in the parts of the zone visited. Population from Amhara region have been seen to have moved into the zone and occupy empty houses and land in several locations. Authorities reported that no food aid has been distributed since February.

Serious protection needs persist across the region. Some 504 cases of gender-based violence, including rape, have been officially reported in May, including 69 cases against girls under 18, and 129 cases during the first week of June. The actual case number is expected to be significantly higher, however, given underreporting due to fear of stigmatization, retaliation, limited access to trusted service providers, and widespread impunity for perpetrators.

On 8 June, the Interim Regional Administration announced that IDPs sheltering at schools will be moved to other IDP location sites in order to resume education activities in phased stages. On 12 June, some 5,500 IDPs sheltering at Axum University in Shire, North-Western Zone, were moved on buses coordinated by the military to other sites already prepared.

Outstanding gaps in shelter and WASH are being urgently addressed. Any returns of IDPs must be voluntary, safe, fully informed, dignified and in line with the Ethiopian Government’s commitment to Kampala Convention on protecting, assisting and resolving the plight of IDPs.

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