Updated Humanitarian Response Plan for Northern Ethiopia: November 2020 to January 2021 (December 2020)

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It is to be recalled that following the conflict in Tigray Region, humanitarian partners developed an emergency response plan for three months from November 2020 to January 2021. While developing the initial plan, partners agreed to issue a second iteration of the plan in one-month period after the first one is published. As such, this plan has now been updated to readjust the needs and requirements based on the reality on the ground in Tigray Region and adjacent woredas of Amhara and Afar Regions.

The plan seeks to increase the readiness of the humanitarian community in Ethiopia to sustain relief assistance to the already existing vulnerable people in Tigray, consider and advocate for protection, freedom of movement, ensure unhampered, safe and equitable access to goods, services, and protection of the civilian population.

The plan also seeks to prepare the humanitarian community to respond to the protection and other needs of an additional caseload that are likely to be affected in Tigray, Amhara and Afar Regions by the crisis in the next two months (December 2020 to January 2021). Residual needs will be incorporated into the 2021 HRP.

Planning figures for the response plan: Tigray currently hosts various categories of vulnerable groups. These include 855,000 people who are currently targeted in the HRP- 750,000 non-displaced people, 100,000 IDPs and 5,000 IDP returnees. In addition, as of October there were 96,000 registered Eritrean refugees in Tigray and over 1 million PSNP beneficiaries who need regular support. See Table 1 for a breakdown of these numbers by zone. PSNP clients who are supposed to receive transfers at the moment are Permanent Direct Support (PDS) clients, out of which the transitory need is expected to be required for 121,096 people. The on-going situation in Tigray has already displaced people within the Region and across the Regional boundaries into Amhara (currently estimated at 34,000 by Amhara Regional Government) and Afar (over 25,000 IDPs reported) Regions, while nearly 50,000 are displaced across the international borders to Sudan. In addition, Ethiopia regularly receives large caseloads of returnees from transit and destination countries, particularly on the Eastern migration route. In the last three months (Sep-Nov 2020), 2,065 Ethiopian migrants originating from Tigray have returned to Ethiopia. At current levels of return, more than 1,200 migrants could be expected to return in the next two months and risk being stranded in Addis Ababa and other Points of Entry (PoEs). IOM expects that upon resuming of deportations from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), as expected in mid-December, the number of Ethiopian returnees originating from Tigray returning to Ethiopia will rise significantly, leaving thousands of returnees stranded in need of assistance in different parts of the country. Since 2017, more than 350,000 vulnerable Ethiopian migrants have been deported from KSA, 30 per cent of them originated from Tigray.

FEWS NET published a food security alert, elaborating on the likely food security situation in Tigray. According to the alert, some rural households in areas affected by conflict have abandoned or cannot access their fields. Furthermore, given official movement restrictions, fear of moving due to the conflict, and reduced intra- and inter-Region trade flows, economic activity is generally reduced. Restricted movement is especially damaging to poor households in the deficit-producing mid- and highland areas who rely heavily on labor migration to surplus areas in the western lowlands. Income from labor migration was already negatively affected in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic control measures and related movement restrictions. In addition, livestock sales, an important income source among middle and better-off households throughout the Region, are limited by reduced market functioning. Since this income helps support the local economy, generating demand for local agricultural labor, a reduction in livestock sales has knock-on effects for poorer households.
Overall, poor households' access to income has notably decreased. At the same time, extremely high food prices are further constraining access to food. Information from those who recently left Tigray Region suggests the destruction of infrastructure, Regional boundary closures, and fuel shortages have resulted in limited food supplies in markets, putting significant upward pressure on food and non-food prices, which were already above average.

Moreover, there are reports of people who became displaced, both in Tigray and in areas of Amhara and Afar Regions. A multisectoral assessment in Afar, conducted from 2-7 December, found the presence of IDPs from Tigray in the visited woredas. In addition, there were reports of people who initially became displaced from Tigray into Afar, but had reportedly returned to Tigray at the time of the assessment.

Based on the available information, an estimated people in need has been calculated. The impacts of the conflict on the food security situation have been analyzed by the Household Economy Approach and have factored in the possible impacts of crop loss due to the conflict, increase that has been observed in staple food prices and restrictions that have been reported on the labor situation. In addition, the Protection Cluster has estimated the impact of the conflict on protection needs, the Nutrition Cluster has estimated a possible increase in malnutrition cases, and the analysis has factored in the unverified reports on displacements received so far. This leads to an estimated 1.3 million people who have additional humanitarian needs due to the conflict.

The total caseload that needs assistance is 2.3 million persons (which includes the already existing HRP and refugee caseloads) to be targeted through this response preparedness plan from December 2020 to January 2021.