Ethiopia – Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 07 Oct 2021

Ethiopia – Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 07 Oct 2021

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The overall humanitarian situation in Northern Ethiopia continues to deteriorate.
  • During the week, 80 trucks of humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigray via Afar.
  • As per a rapid market survey in Tigray, prices of essential commodities spiked dramatically since mid-June, including by 2,300 per cent for benzine in Shire.
  • Partners reached more than 444,000 people with food assistance in Amhara and about 72,000 internally displaced people in Afar since early August.
  • The Government of Ethiopia expelled seven UN officials, including senior humanitarian officials.

BACKGROUND

Disclaimer

OCHA Ethiopia prepares this report with the support of Cluster Coordinators. The data/information collected covers the period from 29 September – 4 October. 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 14 October. The report is expanded to cover Amhara and Afar regions.

BACKGROUND

Situation Overview

The overall situation in Northern Ethiopia continues to be highly unpredictable and is deteriorating by the day. In Tigray, the humanitarian situation remains increasingly dire, while the spillover of the conflict to neighboring Amhara and Afar regions is rapidly increasing the humanitarian needs in those areas. Humanitarian access in large areas inside Tigray remains viable, with some 75 per cent of the region fully accessible. Access to areas bordering Eritrea in the far north, western and southern parts of North-Western Zone, remains inaccessible due to the fluid security situation. However, the lack of fuel and cash is significantly impacting the response. In addition, the delivery of humanitarian supplies to Tigray Region remains heavily constrained via the only access route through Afar (Semera-Abala-Mekelle corridor). Access to some areas in Afar and Amhara regions also remains restricted due to the ongoing conflict and insecurity.

Between 29 September – 5 October 80 trucks of humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigray via Afar. This brings the number of humanitarian trucks that entered the region since 12 July to 686 trucks, or about 12 per cent of the trucks needed. Humanitarian partners estimate that 100 trucks with food, non-food items, and fuel must enter Tigray every day to meet the needs on the ground.

The trucks that arrived during the week carried food, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection and mixed cargo items. However, much-needed fuel and medical supplies were not allowed. The most recent fuel tanker entered Tigray on 29 July – over nine weeks ago – while eight tankers in Semera (Afar) are pending Government approval to proceed. Consequently, several UN and NGO partners have had to significantly reduced or suspended response activities, programs, needs assessments, and movements to and from their field offices to other locations, as they have almost run out of fuel supply.

The health situation is of particular concern due to lack of medicine and medical equipment. It is reported that in Ayder hospital in Mekelle city, 18 people, including one child, died due to lack of hemodialysis catheters. The lives of 34 patients are at risk unless dialysis supplies are not provided immediately. The oxygen machine in the hospital is broken and needs spare parts that are not available in the region. In Selwa Woreda, Southern Zone, five women are understood to have died at home at time of delivery from post-partum hemorrhage due to lack of health care. Hospitals outside of Mekelle, including in Hawzen, Axum and Adigrat, have run out of nutrition therapeutic supplies to treat severe malnutrition cases among young children. Health partners capacity for essential activities continues to reduce due to limited flow of medical supplies, cash, and fuel. They are now only supporting 13 health facilities and 39 IDP sites in 10 Woredas compared to 125 health facilities, IDPs sites, and hard to-reach areas in 25 Woredas a month earlier.

To sustain humanitarian operations, and estimated US$6.5 million are needed every week, either through a functioning banking system or Government approval to transport adequate amount of cash. Since 12 July, about $4 million (189 million birr in local currency) has been cleared or dispatched to Tigray, including $973,000 (45 million birr) between 21-28 September. As per the procedures set by the Government of Ethiopia, partners can only carry a maximum of $432,000 (2 million birr) on the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flight.

UNHAS continues to operate two passenger flights per week between Addis Ababa and Mekelle, with 19 flights having operated since July. On the 30 September flight, however, about half of the passengers flying from Addis Ababa to Mekelle were unable to board the flight due to a new requirement of additional supporting documentation from the Ministry of Peace. International staff working with international agencies require a resident ID issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and those working with NGOs need a resident ID issued by the immigration authority. International staff temporarily deployed as part of the humanitarian scale up require an approval and supporting letter from the Ministry of Peace.

The lack of commercial supplies arriving to Tigray has led to severe shortages of essential commodities in markets. Rapid market surveys of basic food and non-food items in Shire and Mekelle, show that prices of essential commodities have significantly increased since mid-June, making them unaffordable for most of the population (see table with some examples). This is compounded by significantly reduced purchasing power among vulnerable households due to loss of livelihoods, including non-payment of salaries for civil servants since June. Some humanitarian staff have also not been paid for several months due to lack of access to adequate amount of cash or banking services.

Food continues to be the most urgent need in Tigray, with an estimated over 400,000 people are suffering from catastrophic hunger levels (IPC 5), according to the latest food security analysis. People suffering from acute food insecurity could slide into catastrophic level of hunger and further into famine-like conditions if food assistance is not rapidly scaled up. Credible reports indicate that internally displaced people (IDP) are selling emergency shelter and non-food items in exchange for food and paying for essential services.

In neighboring Afar and Amhara regions, the conflict continues to affect civilians resulting in increased food insecurity and displacement, as well as the disruption of livelihoods. In Amhara, hostilities have led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in North Gonder, Central Gonder, South Wello, South Gonder, and Awi Zones. In Afar, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people are directly affected by the conflict, including several tens of thousands displaced. Assistance is urgently needed to these areas and humanitarian partners are working with regional authorities to respond in Amhara and Afar.

On 30 September, the Government of Ethiopia expelled seven UN officials, including senior humanitarian officials. In response, the UN Secretary-General expressed his shock of the decision highlighting that all UN humanitarian operations are guided by the core principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. He conveyed his full confidence in the UN staff who are in Ethiopia doing this work.

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

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