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Ethiopia - Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 19 August 2021

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Situation Report
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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Humanitarian access into Tigray remains restricted to one road through Afar Region, with insecurity, extended delays with clearances, and intense search at checkpoints.

  • One hundred trucks of food, non-food items and fuel, including at least 90 trucks of food, must enter Tigray every day to sustain assistance for at least 5.2 million people.

  • Between 5-11 August, food partners reached more than 320,000 people under Round 1 and more than 1 million people under Round 2.

  • Partners reached about 184,000 people with water, 10,000 children with educational programs, and donated 10,000 textbooks in support of the school reopening effort.

  • The spillover of the conflict into neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions continues to take a heavy toll on civilians.

BACKGROUND

Situation Overview

The situation in Tigray remains unpredictable and volatile while the movement of Tigray Forces in Amhara and Afar continues. Humanitarian access in large areas inside Tigray is now feasible and secure, with some 75 per cent of the region fully accessible. Access to areas bordering Eritrea in the far north, southern parts of Southern Zone, and western and southern parts of North-Western Zone remains inaccessible due to the fluid security. Within Western Zone, under the control of Amhara Regional Forces, movement is limited, and the zone is inaccessible from neighboring North Western Zone.

Humanitarian access into the region remains restricted to one road through Afar Region where there is insecurity, extended delays with clearances of humanitarian supplies, and intense searches at checkpoints. Between 13 -17 August, the scanner at Silsa checkpoint was broken, putting all cargo convoy movement on hold with over 102 trucks are currently waiting in Semera to transit into Mekelle. Only 30 trucks with humanitarian supplies can be scanned every day under the current procedures, while we need 100 trucks of food, non-food and fuel a day moving into Tigray.

From 15 July to 15 August, 318 trucks with humanitarian supplies entered Tigray. This is only a small amount of the required humanitarian cargo to meet the mounting needs. Food partners estimate that at least 3,600 metric tons (MT) of food commodities or 90 trucks are required to enter Tigray every day to sustain food assistance for at least 5.2 million people. For instance, the Joint Emergency Operation (JEOP) partners (a consortium of INGOs) need approximately 70 trucks or 2800 MT of food entering Tigray every day for 40-50 days to complete rounds 2 and 3 of food distribution. WFP needs about 20 trucks or 800MT daily to complete round 3 within 30 days.

In addition to the above cargo that arrived in Mekelle, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) charter flight arrived from Addis Ababa on 13 August with 5 MT of vegetable oil and another 5 MT arrived on 16 August. The UAE committed to 200 MT of vegetable oil.

Humanitarian operations across sectors are severely affected by the ongoing supply disruption, lack of stocks, cash, banking services, fuel, and telecommunications. Transport of ICT equipment is still prohibited, and fuel sent with the cargo is limited. Lack of fuel impacts the provision of life-saving assistance, including operating generators for water services, hospitals, transport of supplies and personnel, and access to electricity and communications. An estimated minimum of 200,000 liters or 4-5 tankers of fuel is needed for humanitarian response per week.

Commercial supply is still obstructed, leading to a lack of essential commodities in the private markets and a spike of prices, making it impossible for people to afford basic daily necessities. The cost of fuel in the unregulated market has reportedly increased by 185 per cent in early July compared to the end of June.

Staff rotation is improving with United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) passenger flight Addis Ababa-Mekelle-Addis Ababa operating two regular flights per week as planned. To complement UNHAS flights, OCHA facilitates joint convoys from Mekelle to Semera and Addis-Ababa twice a week. However, humanitarian workers’ rotation is also hindered by the extension rules for visas, which are renewed every three months. Ethiopian immigration authorities have suspended the visa-on-arrival and e-visa services until further notice since 18 June. Several partners reported delays with applying for visas in person at Ethiopian embassies due to logistical and bureaucratic impediments, including travel to a country with an embassy, restricted working hours of consular services, and restricted number of applicants per day due to COVID-19.

Local authorities are planning to open schools on 20 September. There are 120 IDP sites, of which the majority are in schools. However, given the minimal resources, it is not feasible for partners to provide alternative shelters to the IDPs sheltering at schools.

Meanwhile, the spillover of the conflict into neighboring Afar and Amhara regions continues to take a heavy toll on civilians with increased displacements where armed clashes between Tigray Forces and Federal and Regional Forces in Afar and Amhara regions were reported.

In Afar, more than 76,500 people have been displaced due to the conflict, according to regional authorities. On 12 and 13 August, Afar Regional Government led two multi-cluster initial rapid assessments in Digdiga and Chefra IDPs sites and provided food and water. Partners provided tents, medicines, drinking water, nutrition, and support to water trucking in Digdiga IDPs site, Teru Woreda.

In Amhara, and according to regional authorities, Dessie and Kombolcha in North and South Wello Zone host an estimated 150,000 IDPs. The Regional Government and OCHA will lead a multi-agency rapid assessment in these locations starting 21 August. Meanwhile, humanitarian partners are providing relief assistance. On 14 August, local authorities introduced an evening/night curfew on the movement of people and vehicles in Central Gondar Zone, Gondar city, and Bahir Dar city due to the fluid security situation.

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