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Ethiopia - Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 24 June 2021

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Situation Report
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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Since the release of the latest Northern Ethiopia response plan on 1 May, about 3.7 million people reached with food aid out of the targeted 5.2 million (as of 22 June).

  • While partners continue to gradually scale-up, the response, is insufficient to meet needs, particularly in some sectors.

  • Reports of airstrike killing and wounding civilians in a market in Togoga village in Central Zone.

  • On the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, influential women called for increased assistance to survivors, accountability and justice.

  • The Northern Ethiopia Response Plan is facing a significant funding gap of US$364 million until the end of the year.

BACKGROUND

Situation Overview

The security situation remains highly complex and extremely volatile. Ongoing hostilities and attacks, including on main roads, and use of artillery shelling are reported in several locations.

On 22 June, reports received of airstrike that killed and wounded civilians in a market in Togoga, Central Zone. Armed forces have reportedly blocked roads and denied medical personnel timely access to the wounded. Acting Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ramesh Rajasingham, called on the Ethiopian authorities to carry out a prompt and effective investigation into this attack and subsequent acts depriving victims of medical treatment, and to prosecute perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Partners reported challenges transporting medical supplies, food and non-food items to multiple locations, especially to hard-to-reach areas, due to denial of access. Checkpoints in Agulae (Eastern Zone), Wajerat (South Eastern Zone), Maichew (Southern Zone) and Enticho (Central Zone) remain main bottlenecks for humanitarian movements. However, Dongolat checkpoint (South-Eastern Zone) was dismantled during the reporting period.
On 18 June, the Interim Regional Administration issued a directive on new regulations at checkpoints to facilitate access for humanitarian organizations. UN and other international and local humanitarian vehicles would undergo an expedited search with no additional permission letter required other than the previously obtained from the Prime Minister’s office, according to the directive. Humanitarian cargos will be given a priority to pass through with no lengthy delays.

In the meantime, while the UN staff and some INGO partners, mainly big INGOs, are able to receive three months visa extension to operate in the region, other partners’ requests are being rejected. Visa extensions for all partners area prerequisite to sustain existing programs and scale-up operations.

Harassment, intimidation, detention of aid workers, and confiscation of humanitarian supplies continue to be reported. For example, on 16 June, six barrels of fuel belonging to an INGO were confiscated at a military checkpoint out of Mekelle towards Eastern Zone. On 17 June, Eritrean forces reportedly stopped and physically assaulted a vaccination team in Asgede Woreda, North-Western Zone.

On 16 June, a mission visited Samre and Gijet Woredas, South Eastern Zone. It noted public facilities, including administration offices, schools, health facilities, and water system, destroyed, vandalized or looted. Partners provided limited food, nutrition, non-food items and health services. Food aid is urgently needed with some parts of the zone are at risk of starvation.

Another inter-agency assessment mission was also carried out in Eastern Zone, including to Adigrat, the zonal capital, and IDP sites in Edaga Hamus, Freweyni and Wukro towns. The mission observed high levels of vulnerability among IDPs but with substantial community support. Food, cash, health, including vaccinations for children, and psychosocial support are among top needs in the sites visited.

In Western Zone, about 500 people (100 households) reportedly returned to Dansha from Metema in Amhara region and from neighboring Sudan. Food has been distributed in the zone in the first two months since the conflict, but there has been no distribution since February.

High and critical levels of food insecurity and malnutrition are widespread and would likely slip towards catastrophic levels and looming famine if not addressed immediately. UNICEF says that at least 33,000 children in inaccessible parts of Tigray are severely malnourished and face imminent death without immediate help. UNICEF projects that 56,000 children under five will need treatment this year for severe acute malnutrition – almost six times higher than the average annual caseload for the region.

While partners continue to scale-up response, progress in some sectors is still insufficient to meet the high needs. Of the 3.2 million people targeted for water, sanitation and hygiene, for example, to date only about 20 percent or 631,000 people were reached. Access restrictions, insecurity, lack of fuel, damages to water systems, lack of spare parts and equipment to repair or maintain water systems as well as lack of funding are among the reasons behind this response gap.

Conflict-related sexual gender-based violence continues to be reported across the region. On 18 June, the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, over 50 influential women from Africa or of African descent, signed an open letter in solidarity with the women and girls in Tigray. They urgently called for an immediate ceasefire; increased and timely humanitarian assistance for the survivors; and an independent justice mechanism to ensure that those responsible for the suffering are held to account.

Similarly, more than a dozen renowned women, including former Administrator of the UN Development Programme, Helen Clark, called the UN Security Council to “set up a tribunal to investigate the allegations of sexual violence in Tigray as a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act of genocide”. They added that “failure by the international community to act would undo the progress made so far in eliminating sexual violence in conflict.”

In a joint statement on 18 June, EU High Representative, Joseph Borrell and UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, said they are deeply concerned about the use of sexual violence in the Tigray region and called on all parties involved in armed conflicts to heed the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire and immediately end all acts of conflict-related sexual violence.

On 13 June, the G7 called for “an immediate cessation of hostilities, unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas and the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean forces.”

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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