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UNHCR Ethiopia: COVID-19 and Operational Update (10 June 2021)

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Ethiopia
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UNHCR
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806,541
Refugees and asylum seekers as of 31 May 2021

31,748
Handwashing facilities in camps

2,469
Health and community workers trained

2,800
refugees vaccinated for COVID-19

COVID-19 Operational Context

As of 09 June 2021, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH) reported 273,398 corona virus (COVID-19) cases and 4,226 related deaths in the country. A total of 1,901,363 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19, including 2,800 refugees.

According to an update by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, Ethiopia is one of the top five African countries that have registered the most COVID-19 related deaths to date. The Ethiopian Ministry of Health has issued a statement requiring travellers exiting, entering or transiting through Ethiopia to present digital negative COVID-19 certificates at all points of entry based on the African Union's Trusted Travel guidelines. "Paper certificates shall cease to be acceptable and only AU Trusted Travel or Global Haven COVID-19 test certificates shall be allowed from July 1", the Ministry said.

COVID-19 Prevention and Response

While vaccinations continue to be administered to priority groups including frontline health workers, individuals with severe underlying medical conditions and elderly people, UNHCR, ARRA and their partners, including the Regional Health Bureaus, continue to reinforce prevention measures in the refugee camps and sites hosting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). They are enhancing communications on personal and environmental hygiene, reducing overcrowding, and promoting handwashing with soap. Supplies of water and soap continue to be provided, together with the installation of handwashing stations, enhancing health services and the provision of available personal protective equipment for health care workers, first responders and others.

  • A total of 31,748 handwashing stations have been installed in communal centres and households in the different refugee camps to promote regular handwashing with soap. More capacity is needed however, to ensure that every refugee household is equipped with a handwashing facility and to facilitate distribution of soap in a more consistent manner.

  • 2,469 trained health and community outreach workers are actively engaged in awareness raising, case investigations and management, as well as mitigation and prevention activities to control the virus. In addition, refugee representatives, Refugee Outreach Volunteers (ROVs), women, youth and children’s committees and other community representatives have been trained and are actively engaged to ensure that basic preventive measures are observed in the communities.

  • The daily average per capita water distribution in the refugee camps stands at 20 litres. While some of the camps have access to more than 20 liters per person, per day as per the UNHCR standards, others are receiving less than the emergency threshold of 15 liters per person per day. UNHCR, ARRA and partners continue to work to ensure that all refugees have access to adequate potable water, in keeping with the minimum international standards.

  • Isolation facilities, known as Temporary Assessment Units, have been set up in all refugee camps to temporarily quarantine possible suspected COVID-19 cases, pending their transfer to Government isolation and treatment facilities, as needed. UNHCR has provided hospital beds, mattresses, coverall gowns and other supplies to equip the facilities and the health staff while extending support to the Government-run treatment centers, which are also accessible to refugees.

  • In the capital Addis Ababa, where approximately 48,000 urban refugees reside, UNHCR is communicating with refugees via WhatsApp and Telegram groups. Refugee Outreach Volunteers (ROVs) and refugee leaders are also helping to raise awareness. In addition, telephone helplines and an online portal (Digital Request and Complaints System) are fully functional. Concerned UNHCR staff are processing and responding to requests that are received on daily basis.

  • To meet additional expenses for soap and other sanitary materials, UNHCR provides an allowance of 300 Ethiopian Birr ($6.88) per person per month, to urban-based refugees entitled to monthly living allowances. The intervention is monitored through post-distribution phone interviews by Protection staff.

  • Registration services have resumed (interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic) at the UNHCR’s office in Addis Ababa, to issue refugees with registration documents and update their data. Limited numbers are received per day in line with health measures in place, to ensure the safety of refugees and staff.

  • UNHCR continues to support the inter-agency COVID-19 response to the IDP situation in the country, distributing non-food items, equipping isolation and quarantine centers and providing community communications on health messaging.