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Ethiopia - Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 26 August 2021

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Situation Report
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HIGHLIGHTS

  • No trucks with humanitarian supplies have entered Tigray since 20 August.

  • Food stocks are depleted since 20 August. Partners have ceased food distribution, with exception in some areas where supplies previously dispatched.

  • Between 12-18 August, over 547,000 people were reached with food assistance, under Round 2, bringing the total number of people reached since mid-May to over 3 million people.

  • Protection presence is established in five locations in Adigrat, Maichew, Abi Adi, Sheraro, and Axum, in addition to Mekelle and Shire.

  • Humanitarian partners are supporting the regional authorities’-led response efforts in Afar and Amhara regions.

BACKGROUND

Disclaimer

OCHA Ethiopia prepares this report with the support of Cluster Coordinators. The data/information collected covers the period from 17-23 August. The dashboard data below is as of 13 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 2 September.

Situation Overview

The situation remains unpredictable with Tigray Forces reportedly continued their incursions into neighboring Amhara and Afar regions. On 19 August, hostilities were reported in Abala town, the only entry point into Tigray for humanitarian cargo, raising serious concerns of further limiting the already restricted transport of supplies into the region. Clashes were also reported in Amahara region, including several areas in South and North Gondar Zones. In May Tsebri, in the North-Western Zone of Tigray, clashes were reported between Tigray Forces and Amhara Special Forces.

Humanitarian access in large areas inside Tigray remains viable and secure, with some 75 per cent of the region fully accessible. Access to areas bordering Eritrea in the far north, western, and southern parts of the North-Western Zone, and southern parts of the Southern Zone remain inaccessible due to the fluid security. Western Zone remains under the control of Amhara Forces with limited movement and is inaccessible from neighboring North Western Zone.

Meanwhile, no trucks with humanitarian supplies entered Tigray via the only available route in Afar during the reporting period. Since 15 July, only 321 trucks have entered the region, a fraction of the required humanitarian cargo to meet the needs of at least 5.2 million people. Humanitarian partners estimate that 100 trucks of food, non-food items, and fuel must enter Tigray every day 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. Food partners reported that food stocks are depleted since 20 August. Partners have ceased food distribution, with exception in some areas where supplies previously dispatched.

On 19 August, the cargo scanner at Silsa checkpoint (about 350 km from Mekelle) was moved to Serdo checkpoint (about 400 km from Mekelle), reportedly closer to the technician as it is encountering repeated breakdowns. The frequent breakdown of the scanner is further slowing the movement of the cargo, raising serious concerns. In addition to logistical and bureaucratic challenges, the road via Afar is perilous due to the sporadic attacks against convoys reportedly by local communities.

Tigray's humanitarian operations continue to be severely affected by the ongoing supply disruption, depletion of stocks, lack of cash, banking services, and telecommunications. Transport of ICT equipment and generators are still prohibited, and the limited fuel delivery with cargo in the last several weeks is insufficient to carry out operations.

The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (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 initially on 19 August departed on 21 August due to delayed clearance by the Government. To complement UNHAS flights, OCHA coordinates joint convoys from Mekelle to Semera and Addis-Ababa twice a week, depending on requests from partners and security conditions. On 19 August, the Government of Ethiopia announced it will resume the visa on arrival and online service, which had been suspended on 19 June.

On 21 August, electricity was partially restored in major towns in Tigray after clearing the siltation blocking the hydropower turbine at Tekeze river by local authorities. Telecommunications, banking services, the flow of cash, and commercial supplies are still unavailable across the region.

An estimated 2.1 million people were displaced due to the conflict. According to an intention survey at IDP sites, most displaced people in 305 sites, out of 377 sites assessed, prefer to return to their places of origin. Insecurity, lack of food, damaged or destroyed homes, and limited or lack of livelihood opportunities at their places of origin are the major factors preventing them from returning.

There are currently 23,000 Eritrean refugees in Mai Aini and Adi Harush refugee camps in North-Western Zone. UNHCR and its partners regained partial access to the camp after violent clashes in the area. The humanitarian situation in the camps is reported to be dire due to a lack of essential services and necessities. Safe passage of the refugees to Alemwach new site, near Dabat town, in the Amhara region, is required.

Meanwhile, the spillover of the conflict into neighboring Afar and Amhara regions continues to affect civilians with increased displacement, needs, and restrictions. Consequently, humanitarian partners are scaling up response and supporting the regional authorities’-led response efforts in both regions, and in response to the emerging needs.

In Afar, currently, there are an estimated over 229,000 IDPs, with 48 percent of them displaced by the ongoing conflict, including about 70,000 newly displaced people in Zone 4, according to regional authorities. An additional 500,000 people in Awsi, Kilbati, and Fanti Zones are at high risk of displacement if the conflict continues. Security concerns and poor road conditions due to rains and flooding pose serious challenges reaching people across the region.

The Afar Regional authorities have distributed food and non-food items to some recently displaced people in Zone 4. WFP has started transporting food from its warehouses in Kombolcha, Amhara Region, to provide emergency food assistance to 70,000 IDPs in Zone 4. Partners are planning to provide shelter, non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, medical supplies, and health services to IDPs in Zone 4. Partners deployed four mobile health and nutrition teams to provide nutrition services.

In Amhara, the worsening conflict is further increasing the number of IDPs. Currently, an estimated 100,000 IDPs are located in volatile and conflict-prone areas in North Gondar, Central Gondar, South Gondar, Awi Zone, and various areas. Over 150,000 new IDPs were reported in North Wello at the end of July. There are reports of additional conflict-related displacements in Debark, North Gondar.

The National Disaster Risk Management Committee (NDRMC), Amhara Regional DRMC, and the Joint Emergency Operation Program (JEOP) provide emergency food throughout the region. Following NDRMCs’ request, WFP will start food support to IDPs in North Shewa, North Wollo, and Waghimra. UNICEF and WHO provide technical support on health and nutrition while UNICEF and partners provide mobile clinics in North Gondar. UNICEF is also running a cash program in North Shewa, and continues its response with WASH, nutrition, education, and child protection activities in IDPs hosting areas. UNFPA has prepositioned reproductive health kits at selected health facilities in North Shewa, South Wollo, and Oromo Special Zone and started distributing 5,000 dignity kits for IDPs in Debark, Dabat, West Armachiho, and Chagni.

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