Ethiopia – Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 16 Sept 2021

General

• The first EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight arrived in Tigray, carrying supplies, including ready-to-use therapeutic food for severely malnourished children.

• The last humanitarian cargo that entered the Tigray region via road was on 7 September.

• Last week, more than 448,000 people received only one commodity (2kg of pulses per person) due to a shortage of stock, out of about 547,000 people assisted with food under round 2.

• The number of confirmed humanitarian workers’ deaths in Tigray since the outset of the conflict has climbed from 12 to 23.

• The spillover of the conflict into the Afar and Amhara regions continues to affect civilians with increased food insecurity, increased displacement, and disruption of livelihoods.

Disclaimer

OCHA Ethiopia prepares this report with the support of Cluster Coordinators. The data/information collected covers the period from 31 August -13 September. The dashboard data below is as of 8 September. 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 23 September.

Situation Overview

The humanitarian situation in Tigray remains dire, while the conflict continues to affect neighboring Amhara and Afar regions severely. On 2 September and on behalf of the humanitarian community in Ethiopia, acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia, Grant Leaity, issued a statement warning that the humanitarian situation in Northern Ethiopia is set to worsen dramatically due to the inability to bring in enough and sustained levels of humanitarian supplies, cash, and fuel.

Between 5 and 7 September, 147 trucks of humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigray via Afar. Before this, no trucks had been able to go into Tigray since 22 August. This brings the number of humanitarian trucks that entered Tigray since 12 July to 482 trucks. Some supplies have not been allowed to enter, including fuel, without which humanitarian operations will not continue. 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. Meanwhile, commercial supply is still interrupted, leading to severe shortages of essential commodities in the private markets and a spike in prices, making it impossible for people to afford basic necessities.

On 11 September, the first EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight arrived in Tigray carrying 7 metric tons (MT) of nutritional supplies, including ready-to-use therapeutic food for severely malnourished children. Medicines, however, were removed during government inspection in Addis Ababa. This delivery comes after the humanitarian cargo flight by the United Arab Emirates on 18 August, which was the first one since late June.

While cargo flights are important to transport lighter and high-value items, such as medicines and nutrition supplies, they are not a replacement for delivering food and other assistance via road. While humanitarian access is now viable and secure in 75 per cent of Tigray, delivery of humanitarian assistance remains constrained via the only access route to the region (Semera-Abala-Mekelle corridor) Furthermore, the road between Kombolcha, Amhara, currently the main hub for humanitarian cargo, and Semera, has been heavily militarized recently. At least 10 checkpoints have been reportedly installed, further delaying the movement of trucks.

The UNHAS passenger flight, Addis Ababa-Mekelle-Addis Ababa, continues to operate two flights per week as planned, with 12 flights having operated to date since July. All passengers continue to experience thorough searches at Addis Ababa airport on departure and arrival.

The Ethiopian Immigration has restarted the eVisa application effective from 31 August. Partners have reported improved issuance of visas, where international non-governmental organization (INGO) colleagues have used the service and got permits. Some UN organizations, though, continue to face visa restrictions and delays.

Parts of the Tekeze bridge, connecting Shire to May-Tsebri, Laelay Tselemti, and Tselmti Woredas in North Western Zone, which were destroyed in early July, are now usable for pedestrians following repairs. These parts are going through additional repairs and reinforcement for the passage of vehicles, including heavy trucks. This will allow partners to transport humanitarian supplies across the bridge.

Since the outset of the conflict, the number of humanitarian workers killed in Tigray has climbed from 12 to 23 as reports of the killing of an additional 11 aid workers from the Relief Society of Tigray (REST, an NGO based in Tigray) have recently emerged. Although these reports came recently, the deaths occurred back in June and January. In a statement on 2 September, acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia, Grant Leaity, condemned the killings, violence, attacks, abductions, and threats against aid workers. He called for humanitarians to be respected and protected and the attacks against them to be fully investigated.

Further complicating the food insecurity and agricultural yield in northern Ethiopia, new reports by FAO indicate that Desert Locust forming in the eastern Amhara Region. At the same time, swarms were seen in Tigray, southwest of Mekelle, and almost certainly forming in the Afar Region. However, breeding areas cannot be accessed due to conflict, preventing the conduct of survey and control operations. As a result, new swarms are expected to form in northern and northeast Ethiopia in October, threatening Eritrea, eastern Ethiopia (Somali Region), and north Somalia, according to the FAO report.

On 10 September, the joint investigation by the UN Human Rights Office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission into alleged violations of human rights, humanitarian and refugee law committed by all parties to the conflict in Tigray has concluded its fieldwork phase. Between 16 May and 20 August, the team conducted investigations in Mekelle, Wukro, Samre, Alamata, Bora, Maichew, Dansha, Maikadra, Humera, Gondar, Bahir Dar, and Addis Ababa. It carried out more than 200 interviews with victims and witnesses, regional and national authorities, civil society organizations, religious institutions, medical and judicial authorities, and humanitarian agencies operating in Tigray. The team also examined documents, videos, photos, and other materials. The final report of the investigation will be published on 1 November.

The spillover of the conflict into neighboring Afar and Amhara regions continues to affect civilians with increased food insecurity, increased displacement, and disruption of livelihoods. According to the Afar regional authorities, more than 140,000 people were displaced in the region by the end of August. In Amhara Region, the Disaster Risk Management Office reports that over 233,000 people were recently displaced in Dessie and Kombolcha in South Wello Zone. More than 1.7 million people in both regions are reportedly food insecure due to the conflict.

Despite access constraints to some areas in both regions (due to hostilities and lack of funds to secure supplies), partners continue to scale up the response and support the regional authorities’-led response efforts in both regions with the limited available resources.

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs