Ethiopia – Situation report on the humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia, 23 December 2021 – Ethiopia


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STRONG POINTS

  • 728 unaccompanied and separated children have been reunited with their families in Tigray and Amhara regions since January, representing only about 9% of the total number of cases.

  • Since the start of the conflict and the end of November, more than 1,000 GBV survivors have been cared for by health services in the three regions of northern Ethiopia.

  • No humanitarian aid trucks arrived in Mekelle during the reporting period.

  • Over 5,700 vitamin A packs shipped to Afar to undertake a major nutrition campaign targeting around 500,000 children.

  • During the week of the report, more than 560,000 people brought food to Amhara; over 88,000 people assisted in Afar; and more than 138,000 people assisted in Tigray.

CONTEXT

Warning

OCHA Ethiopia is preparing this report with the support of cluster coordinators. The data / information collected covers the period from December 14 to 20. In some cases, access and communication constraints mean that period updates are delayed and cannot be taken into account. The next issue of the sitrep will appear on December 30

CONTEXT

Overview of the situation

The situation in northern Ethiopia remains very fluid and unpredictable despite reported limited improvements in the security situation in some areas where fighting has recently erupted, such as the border areas between Afar and Amhara regions. However, ongoing fighting continues to be reported in many places in northern Ethiopia and airstrikes in Tigray. Bureaucratic obstacles continue to hamper humanitarian access, presence and operations. Large-scale displacement, loss of livelihoods and property due to the spread of conflict in recent weeks have increased humanitarian needs.

Movement of persons, displacement and returns continued during the reporting period. In the Amhara region, fluid and unanticipated returns of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their places of origin have been observed, but it remains difficult to verify the figures due to access constraints. Due to plans to reopen schools in the town of Debre Berhan, for example, IDPs from North Shewa, Oromia Special Zone and South Wello have returned to their places of origin, while IDPs from the North Wello area have been relocated from schools to alternative sites within the area. Two out of ten IDP sites in the city were closed during the reference period.

In Afar, around 750 new displaced people arrived at the Wake / 50 site in Chifra Woreda in the Awsi area during the week, apparently in search of emergency assistance after being trapped for weeks. because of the fighting in their area. In Tigray, the arrival of newly displaced people from the western zone to the northwestern zone continued on a small scale with a few hundred people registered at collective sites during the reference week. It is estimated that more than 30,000 people have been displaced from the western area since November 20.

Airstrikes were reportedly carried out on the town of Alamata and its surroundings in the southern zone of Tigray between 15 and 17 December. Dozens of casualties are reported, including several dead, but humanitarian partners have not been able to independently verify these reports due to the security situation and access constraints.

Meanwhile, no humanitarian aid trucks arrived in Mekelle, Tigray, via the Afar-Abala-Mekelle corridor during the reporting period. As of December 21, a convoy of 20 trucks carrying food and nutrition supplies was still waiting in the town of Abala, Afar’s last point of entry into Mekelle, due to operational and security concerns. Since July 12, 1,338 trucks have entered the region, less than 12% of the supplies needed to meet humanitarian needs.

Due to the fuel shortage in Tigray, some partners have suspended food shipping since December 10 and will be forced to suspend distribution from December 25 if no additional fuel is available. As of December 20, food partners had only about 30,000 liters of fuel left in the region. At least 120,000 liters of fuel are needed to ship around 8,000 tonnes of food currently available in Mekelle. This excludes fuel requirements for the day-to-day operations of the partners.

UNHAS operated two flights between Addis Ababa and Mekelle during the reporting period. A limited amount of operational cash has been transferred to UNHAS flights, but this remains insufficient to support operations and provide a meaningful response.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia continues to have a devastating and growing impact on civilian infrastructure, including health facilities, schools, roads, bridges, water networks and the power system, having a direct impact on people’s lives. The Ala Weha Bridge between Woldiya and Kobo in eastern Amhara was reportedly partially destroyed between December 18 and 19. Another bridge between Haro and Dire Roka, further up the road to Kobo, was also destroyed. The damage to these two bridges has implications for the humanitarian organization, as they connect a main road and a supply route between Tigray and eastern Amhara.

The Amhara Public Health Institute (APHI) reported that more than 418 health centers, 1,706 health posts, 35 hospitals, 4 blood banks and 52 ambulances were damaged due to the conflict and that more than 7 000 health workers have been displaced. Some 1.5 million women and children are in urgent need of essential health services and more than 45,000 children under five have missed routine immunization services. Likewise, some 91 health facilities, including a hospital and 23 dispensaries, were looted or damaged in zones 1, 4 and 5 in Afar. Meanwhile, electricity was restored to the towns of Semera and Logia in Afar over the weekend. With a few interruptions, electricity is restored to the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha in Amhara, while the water pipes operate in both towns. Dessie Hospital has started providing basic health services.

Based on available data, admission of children under five with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) to the therapeutic feeding program in Afar increased by 16.5% in October 2021 compared to the same period last year (October 2020), showing a deterioration of the malnutrition situation in the region. The food security situation in the ten Afar woredas, bordering Tigray, is expected to deteriorate further, leading to increased rates of malnutrition. These woredas are already hosting 50,000 displaced people, putting additional pressure on the resources available, while the emergency aid they receive is very limited. Likewise, increasing rates of malnutrition have been reported among children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding women due to disruption of markets and lack of access to food sources during the fighting in Dessie and Kombolcha in Amhara.

The conflict has increased the risk of family separation and child protection. Between January and November 2021, at least 8,419 (1) unaccompanied and separated children (UASC), including 4,311 girls, living in IDP sites and host communities were identified and registered in Tigray, Amhara and Afar. Because children live without parental and / or adult care, they face significant challenges in accessing basic vital needs, mainly food, non-food items and shelter, including for their household as some among them are heads of families. They are also exposed to higher protection risks. Due to operational constraints, low capacity of partners due to lack of fuel, money, funding and the ongoing conflict, only 728 (2) UASC, including 387 girls, have been reunited with their families since January , which is only about 9 percent of the total workload. In addition, 1,067 (3) UASC (580 girls; 477 boys) were placed in an alternative family care system, mainly with foster families and foster families. In Tigray, partners providing cash assistance to UASC are strapped for cash and unable to provide reunification packages to families in need. In addition, family tracing and reunification efforts have been suspended in Tigray due to lack of communication networks and fuel shortages. In addition, local protection structures and networks that provided support were disrupted, with some reports of foster families abandoning their responsibilities due to dwindling resources, especially in Tigray.

Footnote

  1. 7,165 children identified and registered in Tigray, 1,215 in Amhara and 39 in Afar. The data covered January to November 2021, and the actual number of UASCs is estimated to be higher.

  2. Including 331 children in Tigray and 397 in Amhara. No child has yet been reunited in Afar.

  3. Including 1,003 children from Tigray; 25 in Amhara. The 39 children identified in Afar are placed in alternative protection.

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