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Ethiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 25 Nov 2021

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  • UNHAS resumed flights to and from Mekelle on 24 November.
  • An assessment conducted in Debre Berhan, Amhara, to gauge the humanitarian and access situation, and inform on the humanitarian response, following large-scale displacement.
  • More than 500 health facilities across Amhara Region were damaged due to the conflict, preventing a large number of people from accessing healthcare services.
  • Nutrition and feeding commodities sufficient to treat severely malnourished children in Afar and Amhara regions for the next two months were dispatched to both regions.
  • Food partners started a food assistance operation to reach more than 450,000 people in Dessie and Kombolcha over the next two weeks.


Situation Overview

The situation in northern Ethiopia remains fragile and fluid, with humanitarian operations heavily constrained due to insecurity and bureaucratic impediments, including lack of transportation of humanitarian supplies, hampering the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

The spillover of the conflict to Afar and Amhara regions continues to increase humanitarian needs with additional large-scale displacement and loss of livelihood. In Amhara, tens of thousands of people were displaced from Dessie Town in South Wello Zone to the zonal capital city Bahir Dar in the last few weeks; and thousands were displaced from Dessie to Mekane Selam in South Wello Zone. There are also reports of displacement from Dawunt Woreda in North Wello Zone to Tach Gayint *Woreda *in South Gondar Zone and from Tehulederie Woreda in South Wello Zone to Merto Lemariyam Town in East Gojam Zone.

Between 15-17 November, an inter-agency team conducted assessments in Debre Berhan Town in North Shewa Zone in Amhara to gauge the humanitarian and access situation and inform on the humanitarian response, following large-scale displacement to the town. Most of the displaced population are living with the host community, while an estimated 9,000 people are sheltering in six schools. Additional displacements are reported daily. Many people arriving in to Debre Berhan and several other areas in North Shewa Zone were displaced several times and as a result increasing their vulnerability.

In the four IDP sites visited, the team noted a lack of water supplyfor drinking, cooking, and washing, lack of non-food items, and inadequate sanitation facilities. While most IDPs in camp setting have received food assistance from the government and communities, IDPs in host communities and rural areas have not. Partners are on the ground to support the response but there is an urgent need to scale up the response in a coordinated manner especially with NFIs, WASH, health, protection, and education assistance to address current needs and potential new needs as IDP influx continues.

Access remains the main challenge for humanitarian partners to reach people with life-saving assistance in many parts of Northern Ethiopia. For example, in Amhara, only three woredas, out of 18 in North Wello Zone, and only one out of the nine Woredas in Wag Hamra Zone are currently accessible to humanitarian partners. The ongoing hostilities have caused significant damages to civilian infrastructure and public services across the three regions. According to a recent rapid assessment, fighting has damaged more than 500 health facilities across Amhara, depriving a large segment of the population healthcare services. Health care providers are also displaced, further worsening the already fragile health system.

On 24 November, UNHAS flights to Mekelle resumed following their suspension on 22 October. As a result, UN and humanitarian partners were able to rotate staff in and out of Tigray and transfer a limited amount of operational cash. However, humanitarian partners on the ground continue to report significant challenges to their operation due to cash shortages.

Almost 420,000 IDPs living in 131 IDP sites in Tigray, require more than 6,200 m3 of water every day through 313 water truck trips. This operation requires 2,200 liter of fuel per day. However, humanitarian partners had to significantly reduce response programs and activities due to lack of fuel. Out of 46 WASH partners, only 11 partners are operating in 22 woredas in Mekelle, Central, South-Eastern, and Eastern zones.

On 17 November, an inter-agency team visited Sheraro and Adi Hageray Woredas in North-Western Tigray. The mission identified food shortage in the 14 IDP sites in Sheraro and found that only two of the four hospitals in the area are operational, but with severe shortages of essential medicines and medical supplies. In Adi Hageray, there is no availability of sustainable water supply with residents reportedly traveling 20 kilometers to fetch water. Water supply in the three IDP sites in town, totaling about 10,000 people, is also scarce.

In Afar Region, renewed fighting in Awsi and Hari zones, bordering Amhara region, reportedly displaced tens of thousands of people. The ongoing fighting is preventing humanitarian partners from reaching the affected population. The closure of Dessie and Kombolcha markets in Amhara is negatively impacting livelihoods, including the livestock market, and subsequently the food security situation in Afar. For instance, price for cereals, rose rapidly by 20-25 per cent in two months. The destruction of the electricity transmitter in Kombolcha has disrupted both electricity and water supplies in Semera, Dubti and Logia towns. Most Government offices in the region are closed or providing limitedl services.

UNICEF reported that the conflict has affected 455 schools with more than 88,000 students across 13 Woredas in the Afar Region, including more than 35,000 girls. Out of the affected schools, 98 schools are hosting IDPs, or are partially damaged or looted. Some 214 schools, all in Zone 4, are closed due to active fighting. As a result, more than 30,000 students, including more than 11,000 girls, are forced to stay out of school. The conflict has also destroyed 45 schools.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit