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Ethiopia - Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 2 Sep 2021

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Less than 10 percent of the required humanitarian cargo, 2.2 percent of the necessary operational cash, and 28 percent of fuel has been able to reach Tigray since 12 July.

  • Only 25% to 50% of the normal cereal production will be available this year as agricultural planting season has been missed in many parts of Tigray.

  • Due to food-stock depletion, only 131,000 people were assisted with food between 19 and 25 August under Round 2, down from more than 547,000 people a week earlier.

  • An estimated 1.7 million people are facing food insecurity in Afar and Amhara regions due to the spillover of the Tigray conflict.

BACKGROUND

Disclaimer

OCHA Ethiopia prepares this report with the support of Cluster Coordinators. The data/information collected covers the period from 24 -30 August. In some cases, access and communication constraints mean that updates for the period are delayed. The next issue of the sitrep will be published on 9 September.

Situation Overview

The humanitarian situation in the Tigray region is worsening dramatically due to the limited quantity and depletion of humanitarian supplies, operational fuel, and cash. While humanitarian access is now viable and secure in 75 percent of Tigray, delivery of humanitarian assistance is extremely constrained. The only access route to the region is via Afar (Semera-Abala corridor), which has not been accessible since 22 August due to bureaucratic and logistical impediments.

To date, and since 12 July, only 335 trucks have entered the region, less than 10 percent of the 3,500 cargo trucks required for that period to meet the needs of at least 5.2 million people. Humanitarian partners estimate that 100 trucks with food, non-food items, and fuel must enter Tigray daily to sustain an adequate response. This includes at least 90 trucks or 3,600 metric tons of food commodities, equivalent to a common food basket for around 210,000 people. Non-governmental food partners have run out of stocks for common food basket within Tigray, while no humanitarian food supplies entered the region since 20 August. Consequently, only 131,000 people were assisted with food between 19 and 25 August, under the second distribution cycle, down from more than 547,000 people a week earlier out of the 5.2 million people in need of food assistance.

Commercial supply is still blocked, leading to a severe shortages 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 vegitable oil in the market, for instance, has reportedly increased by 5 times in late August compared to end of June, from 300 birr per liter ($6.5) to 1,500 birr ($32.5).

Based on the latest operational analysis, about US$6.5 million, equivalent to 300 million birrs in local currency, is needed every week to sustain operations, either through a functioning banking system or Government approval to regularly transport cash supplies into the region. Since 12 July, only 47 million birr have been brought in as partners can only bring a maximum of 2 million birrs on each UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flight, following an approval process. This is 2.2 percent of the cash required by partners to carry out programs and pay local staff salaries.

A minimum of 200,000 liters of fuel is required for humanitarian response every week. Since 12 July, only 282,000 liters (12 trucks) have reached Tigray, and none since 16 August. This is about 28 percent of the amount needed. Clearance for the movement of fuel tankers to transit to Tigray was reportedly denied by authorities in Afar region. Transport of ICT equipment, generators and office furniture are still prohibited.

The UNHAS passenger flight Addis Ababa-Mekelle-Addis Ababa continues to operate two flights per week as planned, with some delays during the reporting period. The flight that was supposed to fly on 24 August initially departed on 25 August, and the flight on 26 August departed on 28 August due to delayed clearance by the Government. All passengers, including senior UN officials, are going through intrusive and intensive searches at Addis Ababa airport on departure and arrival.

On 24 August, Afar Special Police blocked a UN mission traveling from Semera to Abala to assess the road conditions and pick up staff exiting Tigray. The team was commanded to return to Semera and armed police forcefully entered the UN marked vehicles with arms to escort the team to Semera. The police officers ordered the drivers to drive significantly over speed limits while verbally abusing, harassing, and threatening them and temporarily confisacating cell phones. Consequently, Mekelle-Semera movements were cancelled by the UN until further notice, adding another constraint to staff rotation.

Anticipated poor agricultural yields are further deteriorating food security. According to the Agriculture Cluster partners and the Bureau of Agriculture, out of the 1.3 million hectares of farmland, only 320,000 hectares have been cultivated, as most farmers only had a narrow window during the planting season. The expected harvest is estimated to be between 2.4 to 2.8 million quintals (1 quintal equals 100 kg). In comparison, typically, the harvest is about 21 million quintals or a maximum of 13 percent of the agricultural yields in normal periods. Additionally, desert locusts were reported in 19 Woredas with a high risk for hatching in Samre, Saharti (South Eastern Zone), Abergele Yechila, and Tanqua Melashe (Central Zone). The response is limited due to lack of fuel, cash to purchase pesticides, and lack of information on hatching in neighboring regions.

Meanwhile, the spillover of the conflict into neighboring Afar and Amhara regions continues to affect civilians with increased food insecurity, increased displacement, and disruption of livelihoods. An estimated 1.7 million people in both regions are food insecure due to the Tigray conflict.

In addition to access constraints to some areas in both regions due to the ongoing hostilities, partners face shortages of funds to secure supplies to assist additional acute food insecure people. Despite the challenges, humanitarian partners continue to scale up the response and support the regional authorities’-led response efforts in both regions.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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