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UNICEF Ethiopia Humanitarian Situation Report (Includes Tigray Response): March 2021

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  • In the past three months, UNICEF has reached a total of 1,583,723 people with safe water supply for personal use through the rehabilitation of non-functional water systems, water treatment, and water trucking throughout the country. Of these, 641,976 people have been reached in Tigray Region.

  • Some 38,758 in people in Tigray were reached through the 22 active Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams (MHNTs), out of whom 11,594 were children who received medical consultations, nutrition services, and immunization.

  • Since the beginning of its response in Tigray, UNICEF has delivered 1,093.4 metric tons of multi-sectoral supplies to nine partners (including regional bureaus) with a total value of US$2.5 million.

  • In February, 34,883 new cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) were admitted for treatment throughout the country. Out of these, 48 per cent were in Oromia, 26.7 per cent in Somali, and 4.3 per cent in Tigray. The cure rate was 90.9 per cent, death rate was 0.2 per cent and defaulter rate was 1.85 per cent. The rest were medical transfers or non-respondent children.

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

The vulnerabilities of women and children in conflict-affected areas of Tigray, Amhara and Afar are increasing as conditions continue to deteriorate and internal displacement rapidly escalates. Internally displaced women and children face serious protection vulnerabilities which are aggravated by other vulnerabilities. Their continuous displacement, coupled with a lack of basic services and poor shelter and sanitation, further increases risks of gender-based violence (GBV) including sexual violence (rape and exploitation) particularly for vulnerable women and girls, but also for men and boys. The increase in gender-based violence including sexual violence has been reported repeatedly, including in independent assessments by rights groups. The corresponding lack of services for survivors, compounded by a climate of fear to report and seek help, are hampering provision of the few services available. According to HeRAMS, only 29 per cent of health facilities provide partial services for survivors of rape in Tigray. Results from Oromia, Amhara, Gambella and Tigray show that 4,615,866 children were screened for malnutrition from which 25,078 were referred for SAM management and more than one million children with Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) referred for support. A total of 1,517 children with SAM were admitted in Tigray Region alone.

According to the Somali Region’s Disaster Risk Management Bureau, over two million people in 74 woredas require humanitarian assistance as a result of an ongoing drought. With traditional water sources drying up and functionality of the existing water schemes/boreholes in the affected areas limited, UNICEF and partners have prioritised water trucking and rehabilitation of non-functional water systems. According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), the likely below-average rainfall in February - May 2021 will negatively impact crop production in most of SNNPR, central and eastern Oromia, eastern Amhara, and southern Tigray. In addition to the below-average rainfall, the likely below-average area planted is expected to drive a below-average harvest, which will likely impact food availability from June onwards.

The crisis in Metekel Zone, Benishangul-Gumuz has caused the displacement of over 190,000 people who are now predominantly residing in host-communities, while others are in IDP camps in the six woredas of Bullen, Dibate, Wanbera, Guba, Mandura, and Dangur. UNICEF conducted a multisectoral assessment mission to Metekel in mid-March to identify the needs of people displaced by the conflict, to monitor the responses provided so far, and to identify gaps for further interventions. Officials from the zonal DRMC expressed concerns about inadequate food distribution to meet the needs of the IDPs, while shelter, protection and basic services were also cited as critical needs. The assessment revealed that 3,052 primary school children/students out of whom 1,229 are girls have been affected by the closure of four schools in Sherkole woreda due to insecurity. On 9th and 10th March, UNICEF, together with a partner, conducted a multi-sectoral safety audit at the Ranchi IDP camp outside Chagni town, Amhara Region which identified security and safety concerns among women, adolescent girls and adolescent boys living in the camp and proposed agency-specific and collective recommendations to mitigate GBV/protection risks and vulnerabilities.

As of 31 March 2021, Ethiopia had recorded 206,589 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,865 deaths (1.4 per cent CFR) since the outbreak on March 13, 2020. All the regions continue to report on cases except for Tigray where no reports have been received since the conflict on 4th November 2020. At 135,668 cases, Addis Ababa has the highest number of cases while Gambella has the lowest (1,055). A total of 158,109 patients (76.5 per cent) were reported to have recovered while 45,613 are active and 865 are severe and admitted to designated treatment centres in Addis Ababa and the regions. A total of 127,312 COVID-19 confirmed cases have been followed up through Home-Based Isolation and Care (HBIC) since the system began in July 2020. Some 1,853 cases were newly admitted to HBiC on 31 March alone and currently 18,180 are under HBiC follow-up. The number of cases being confirmed positive daily is increasing; the cumulative positivity rate in March was 21.4 per cent compared to the January and February positivity rates of 8.2 and 15.9 per cent respectively. Similarly, the daily number of severe and admitted cases increased four-fold in March compared to January. As the number of severe COVID-19 cases rises, there are reported shortages of hospital beds and oxygen.

The Ethiopia COVID-19 National Deployment and Vaccination Plan (NDVP) was approved on 17 February 2021. On 7 March, the country received 2.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX facility followed on 30 March by 300,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by the Chinese Government. UNICEF’s support to NDVP includes C4D/SBCC, cold chain, supply chain and logistics for which national consultants have been hired and seconded to the EPI team at the Ministry of Health to support the vaccine roll-out and distribution.