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Ethiopia - Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 3 June 2021

Situation Report
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  • Hostilities have largely ceased along the boundary with Eritrea but access to these areas is often denied.

  • Nine aid workers have been killed in Tigray since the start of the conflict, including another NGO worker on 28 May in Adigrat.

  • 21 per cent of the 21,000 children under-5 screened for malnutrition were identified with severe wasting, significantly above the 15 per cent threshold set by WHO..

  • More than 5,400 unaccompanied and separated children have been identified, of whom only 7.5 per cent are placed at temporary alternative care.

  • More than 2.8 million people of the targeted 5.2 million reached with food under the 2021 response plan since late March, including about 650,000 people during the reporting period


Situation Overview

The overall security situation remains highly complex and fluid. Ongoing active hostilities are very mobile, taking place mostly in rural areas and hindering planning and expansion of humanitarian operations. While hostilities have largely ceased in boundary areas with Eritrea in the last few month, from North-Western to Eastern Zones access to these areas is often denied.

Violence and attacks against civilians, including humanitarian workers, continue. Since the start of the conflict, nine aid workers have been killed in Tigray, all Ethiopian nationals. The latest incident occurred on 28 May when a humanitarian worker working with an INGO was killed together with the Mayor of Adigrat town and another victim during an attack outside the Government building in Adigrat Town, Eastern Zone. The individual was not a direct target but was the victim of a crossfire.

On the night of 24 May, more than 200 people were arrested during military raids into Tsehaye and Adi Wonfito internally displaced collective sites in Shire, North-Western Zone, hosting a combined 12,000 internally displaced persons. Most of the men detained have been reportedly released on 27 May. The humanitarian community, through an official statement released by the Humanitarian Coordinator on 28 May, condemned the arbitrary arrest, beatings and other forms of ill-treatment of civilians by members of the armed force. The Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release on 28 May that “the necessary investigation will have to be undertaken to verify the facts in relation to the above-mentioned allegation.”

Localized incidents of denial of humanitarian movement, looting and confiscation of humanitarian assets and supplies by the parties to the conflict continue to be reported. Access, however, was possible in some previously inaccessible areas. On 22 May, a joint OCHA and WFP mission visited Zana Town and Selekleka in North-Western Zone. Lack of health services was observed except for one partner running a clinic twice per week in Zana. Trade and transportation is completely cut off in Zana Woreda with poor road conditions north of Selekleka hindering humanitarian access and access of the population to essential services. In addition, Western Zone is now accessible through Amhara but not from North Western Zone. Areas along the regional boundary with North-Western Zone and areas bordering Tahtay Adiyabo Woreda, North-Western Zone are not accessible.

Levels of food insecurity and malnutrition remain alarming. Screening of children for malnutrition has doubled during the reporting period, with more than 21,000 children screened, compared to nearly 11,000 a week earlier. Children aged 6-59 months identified with severe wasting accounted for 21 per cent, alarmingly above the 15 per cent prevalence threshold set by WHO.

According to IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix fifth Emergency Site Assessment1,715,176 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were found to be displaced due to the conflict across 265 sites in Tigray, Amhara and Afar Regions. Of those, 1,645,944 IDPs are in Tigray Region, followed by 48,420 IDPs in Afar Region and 20,812 IDPs in Amhara Region. DTM notes that 6 sites in Southern and South-Eastern Zones that were covered during round 2 and across 10 sites in Central and Western Zones covered during round 4 were inaccessible during this round due to insecurity. The Tigray Regional Interim Administration estimates more than 2 million people are displaced.

Health facilities continue to receive and treat survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) throughout the region with 1,288 official cases reported between February and April. The reported cases greatly underestimate the actual cases as underreporting is widespread mainly due to fear of stigmatization and/or retaliation, limited access to trusted service providers, and widespread impunity for perpetrators.

Some 5,404 unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) were identified in Tigray, in which at least 95 percent of them (5,159) are in Shire, Sheraro, Adi Daero, Endabaguna, Seyemti Adyabo, Tahtay Koraro (North-Western Zone), Axum and Adwa, (Central Zone). Only 7.5 percent of them (389 children) are placed at temporary alternative care or foster and kinship care, and only 10 children (0.2 percent) were reunited with their families. A few humanitarian organizations are working on child protection and family tracing and reunification. Humanitarian support for these children is clearly insufficient and has so far been on identification and registration. In addition to child protection services, the children need medicine, food, and non-food items.

Humanitarian partners are gradually scaling up the response, but not yet keeping pace with the mounting needs, due to a combination of active conflict, access constraints, interrupted communications, and lack of funding. Appropriate visa extensions is also required for NGO partners to enable continuation of staff and projects.

In a press release issued on 23 May, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, called on the Ethiopian Government to ensure unhindered humanitarian access in the Tigray Region, and raised the risk of further deterioration of the food insecurity without rapid expansion of humanitarian access. Later, on 26 May, US President Joe Biden, said in a statement that the large-scale human rights abuses taking place in Tigray, including widespread sexual violence, are unacceptable and must end.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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