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Ethiopia - Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 30 Dec 2021

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Ethiopia
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OCHA
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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Dozens of civilians reportedly killed in southern Tigray due to airstrikes during the reporting week, the most intense attacks and highest casualties reported since October.

  • All humanitarian convoys to Tigray Region, via the Afar-Abala-Mekelle corridor, remain suspended since 14 December due to ongoing clashes and insecurity in Abala.

  • More than 2.2 million people received food assistance in Amhara since 21 October, including more than 193,000 people reached by UN and NGO partners between 20-26 December.

  • About 27,000 children, including more than 14,000 girls, reached with formal and non-formal learning opportunities in Tigray during the reporting period.

  • Twenty-five mobile health and nutrition clinics continue to provide critical and life-saving health care and nutrition interventions in Afar.

BACKGROUND (1 minute ago)

Disclaimer

OCHA Ethiopia prepares this report with the support of Cluster Coordinators. The data/information collected covers the period from 14-20 December. In some cases, access and communication constraints mean that updates for the period are delayed and cannot be reflected. The next issue of the sitrep will be published on 30 December

BACKGROUND (1 minute ago)

Situation Overview

The situation in northern Ethiopia remains tense and unpredictable. Ongoing fighting reported in several locations in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions. Bureaucratic impediments and insecurity continue to impede humanitarian access, presence, and operations across the northern Ethiopia. In Amhara, humanitarian activities were significantly impacted in areas bordering Tigray, including North Gondar, Wag Hamra, North and South Wello, and North Shewa zones due to ongoing fighting. However, as access improved in South Wello Zone this week, partners resumed operations there. To date, 193 woredas in Amhara are accessible, 21 are partially accessible and six woredas are still not accessible. Access in Southern Zone of Tigray remains suspended due to deteriorated security situation. In addition, the extreme northern parts along the Eritrean border and the Western Zone continue to be inaccessible for partners due to armed presence. Movement of people and returns of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their place of origin continued during the reporting period in different parts of northern Ethiopia.

Between 19 and 24 December, airstrikes on Tigray reportedly lead to mass civilian causalities, including dozens of people reportedly killed, making this the most intense series of air attacks and casualties reported since October. Most attacks and casualties reported in Alamata, Korem, Maychew, Mekoni, and Milazat towns in southern Tigray. Due to limited access and insecurity in the area, humanitarian partners could not verify the exact number of casualties yet. On 22 December, airstrike attacks reported against the main electric power control substation in northern Mekelle. One fire fighter was killed, and one main controller transformer was destroyed which caused electricity interruption.

While the security situation in most parts of the Afar Region is reported to be calm, ongoing fighting and shelling were reported in Abala and Telalak Woredas during the reporting week. In Abala, the fighting reportedly led to the displacement of few thousand people to Berahale Town and to Erebti Woreda within the region. Access to the area has not been possible due to insecurity and therefore the needs and the number of displaced people is yet to be assessed and verified. According to the regional authorities, the newly displaced are using a school as an informal collective site and are in urgent need of critical assistance.

In a related development stemming from ongoing violence in Abala, the regional authorities in Afar evacuated about 4,000 Tigrayan IDPs sheltering in five Kebeles in Abala to two government buildings in Semera Town, stating it was for their own safety due to fighting in Abala and surrounding areas. Most of the IDPs are women and children, who are now living in dire situation and are in need urgent humanitarian assistance. The fighting in multiple locations in Afar Region in October and November alone has reportedly displaced few hundred thousand people, the majority of whom are women, children, and elderly. Out of these, nearly 8,000 households are sheltered in Gawis, Hamad Dassa, Adali, and Aware IDP sites in Telalak Woreda and in five Kebeles in Dewe Woreda, all in Zone 5. The remaining IDPs are staying with the host community in Telalak and Dewe towns. An assessment conducted between 15 and 17 December to the above-mentioned IDP sites and to Telalak and Dewe towns noted that no adequate support is in place for the displaced people. Initial priority needs are food, water, emergency shelter, non-food items, primary health care services, nutrition, protection, livelihood opportunities and reunification with missing family members.

The fighting in Abala has also impacted the humanitarian operations in Tigray whereby all humanitarian convoys, via the Semera-Abala-Mekelle corridor remain suspended, the only route available for the transport of humanitarian supplies into Tigray. Consequently, no trucks with humanitarian aid cargo entered Tigray since 14 December. Five of the 20-truck convoy carrying food and nutrition supplies destined to Tigray and waiting in Abala Town since 12 December, have been offloaded by Afar regional authorities and distributed to the community without permission from the partner agency owning the supplies. Meanwhile, 69 trucks out of the 74 trucks in the dry port in Semera have received clearance to proceed to Mekelle and are ready to move once the security situation permits. Overall, 1,338 trucks have entered the region since 12 July, which represents less than 12 per cent of the required supplies required to meet the scale of humanitarian needs.

According to Afar Regional Education Bureau-led multi-agency assessment report conducted between 13 and 20 December, more than 150,000 school children, of whom 45 per cent are girls, and more than 4,000 teachers from about 760 schools in 21 woredas, were affected since the spillover of the conflict into Afar few months ago. More than 200 schools are reported to be damaged in the region, including 65 schools completely damaged. Currently, 322 schools in zones 1,2,4 and 5 in Afar are closed forcing more than 57, 000 children, including 26,000 girls, out of school.

Meanwhile, regional authorities in Amhara reported that few hundred thousand of IDPs in the region have returned to their places of origin in the last few weeks in South Wello and North Shewa zones as the security situation has improved. Authorities facilitated the transportation for some IDPs to return, while others returned using their personal means. It is also reported that most returnees are staying with relatives and friends and thousands are living in damaged shelters in areas where intensive fighting happened. Humanitarian partners were not engaged in the return process, except for assisting a small number of IDPs, and therefore could not verify the voluntary character of the return. Verification of the exact number of people returned is ongoing. Led by regional authorities, coordinated efforts are ongoing to return IDPs sheltering in Debre Birhan, Mekane Selam, Bahir Dar, Ebinat and other seven locations. Meanwhile, authorities in Amhara also reported a noticeable increase of new arrivals in Debre Birhan, most of whom are displaced due to ongoing fighting in West Shewa Zone and other nearby locations.

In Tigray, the humanitarian situation remains dire with more than 5.2 million people or 90 per cent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. Due to lack of supplies, including medications, fuel, and cash for the humanitarian organizations, only a fraction of the people in need are receiving assistance. The situation is expected to deteriorate further if no additional supplies enter the region immediately. The old caseload of IDPs in Shire, for instance, have not received food aid for the last six months. A partner agency halted its mobile health services in Shire from 28 sites to only six due to lack of essential drugs. Most partners have reduced water trucking operations due to lack of fuel and cash while the number of water and sanitation partners reduced from 46 few months ago to only 12 during the reporting period.

According to the latest emergency site assessment conducted in August, there were an estimated 1.8 million IDPs across Tigray. However, due to improved access, the harvest season and the reopening of schools, returns have increased in the region and this figure has most likely gone down. Due to lack of telecommunications in Tigray, it remains difficult to obtain exact figures on IDPs and returnees.

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