Ethiopia – Tigray Region Humanitarian Update Situation Report, 6 January 2021
The security situation in Tigray remains volatile with a gradual improvement in some areas in the Eastern and Western Zones, although insecurity & bureaucratic constraints remain.
The two joint Government-humanitarian partners’ assessment missions that deployed on 20 December are completed.
Both missions have witnessed a dire humanitarian situation with poor access to services and limited livelihoods.
According to both assessment missions, food supplies are very limited, widespread looting is reported and insecurity is high.
OCHA continues to closely work with Government counterparts to streamline the cargo/assessment clearance mechanism, and enable a quicker clearance process (within 48 hours).
950,000 People in need of aid before the conflict
1.3M Projected additional people to need aid
55,500 Refugees in Sudan since 7 November
$63.4M Needed for Preparedness Plan
As the security situation in some areas of Tigray Region is slightly improving, humanitarian workers have been able to access areas that were so far inaccessible, particularly in cities. However, localized fighting and insecurity continues, with fighting reported in rural areas and in the peripheries of Mekelle, Shiraro and Shire among other locations, as of last week.
Access to most parts of North Western, Eastern and Central Tigray remains constrained due to the ongoing insecurity and bureaucratic hurdles. Two of the four refugees camps in the region (Hitsats and Shimelba) are still not accessible.
OCHA and the Logistics Cluster continue to closely work with the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) and the Ministry of Peace (MoP) to streamline the assessment and cargo clearance mechanism, enabling a 48 hour clearance process, and ensuring safe and secure access to Tigray and bordering areas in Amhara and Afar Regions. As of 4 January, 61 per cent of cargo and mission requests have been cleared, but the clearance process took between 5 to 10 days. In some cases, partners could not travel to Tigray due to additional bureaucratic constraints at region/local levels, despite clearance received from federal authorities.
In addition to the previously reported deaths of four humanitarian workers, the international NGO ZOA has confirmed that one of its staff was killed in Hitsats refugee camp, which brings the number of aid workers reported to have been killed in Tigray to at least five. Looting of humanitarian supplies and equipment continues to be reported in some areas, including in Kuiha and Lachi. Humanitarian partners continue to engage with the Government for the unrestricted and safe passage of humanitarian personnel and supplies to all parts of Tigray Region.
The two joint Government-humanitarian partners’ needs assessment missions that deployed in Tigray on 20 December are completed. While the Southern Tigray mission visited Alamata, Enderta, Mehoni and Mekelle from 20 to 28 December, the Western Tigray mission visited Dansha and Humera from 20 to 30 December, but could not proceed to Shiraro and Shire as planned.
Both assessment missions have witnessed a dire humanitarian situation with poor access to services and limited livelihoods. According to the Southern Tigray mission findings, life in Alamata, Mehoni and Mekelle is gradually returning to normalcy with the resumption of some basic services, including electricity and telecommunication. The majority of the displaced people have returned or are in the process of returning to their homes. However, most of their belongings have, however, been looted or destroyed during the conflict. Besides the looting of private properties, they also observed a massive damage and /or vandalization of public health centers, and absence of health workers. Additionally, regional authorities estimate at least 90,000 people have been displaced as result of the conflict, of whom 7,554 people are living in collective sites, including schools. Meanwhile, the Western Tigray mission saw that nearly half of the population visited are living in vulnerable conditions, with important gaps of food and nutrition as harvests did not take place and the region has been in full lockdown since early November. As tensions in Dansha, Humera and May Kadra remain and the area is still challenged by the communications blackout, there is a generalized feeling of insecurity and trauma that will require urgent psychological support. In spite of this difficult context,the situation appears to be evolving towards a slow resumption of socio-economic activities.
According to both assessment missions, food supplies are very limited, and only locally produced food items are available and at increasing prices making basic goods unaffordable. Food, protection/security, shelter, NFIs, health, nutrition and WASH are the priority needs identified. Infrastructure needs to urgently be restored as many buildings, including schools, hospitals and administration offices have been looted and damaged. Health facilities outside of major cities are nonfunctional and those in the major cities are partially working with limited to no stock of supplies and absence of health workers. Additional partners have also conducted independent assessment missions in the locations visited by the Western and Southern missions, as well as in Adigrat, Adwa and Axum, in North-East Tigray.
The Tigray Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) meeting that convened on 1 January discussed humanitarian needs based on assessment findings. The ECC highlighted that more than 4.5 million people in the region need emergency food assistance, including 2.2 million IDPs. Since the conflict erupted in early November only 77,000 people, mostly in Mekelle and its surroundings, and 25,000 refugees in two camps (Mai Ayni and Adi Harush) received food support from partners.
Protection concerns abound, including reports of gender-based violence. some 300 motorized water sources are dysfunctional and majority of the crane lifts are reported to be looted. Only 5 out of 40 hospitals in Tigray are physically accessible, while four additional hospitals are reachable through mobile network. Apart from those in Mekelle, the remaining hospitals are looted and many reportedly destroyed, which, in addition to the insecure environment and non-payment of salaries, has halted basic health services and displaced staff. Overall, health care services are accessible in 22 per cent of the woredas in the region.
The interruption of COVID-19 surveillance and control activities for over a month in the region, coupled with mass displacements and overcrowded conditions in displacement setting is feared to have facilitated massive community transmission of the pandemic. Limited prevention activities have started, including the distribution of 1,200 COVID-19 prevention and hygiene promotion leaflets and PPE materials, provision of health education and organization of a sanitation campaign by IRC in IDP sites in Shire. Additional COVID-19 specific responses are planned by Action Against Hunger. Prior to the conflict (as of 31 October), the region counted 6,610 COVID-19 cases.
To date, 222,413 internally displaced people (45,522 households) have been recorded in Tigray Region, including 141,830 IDPs (28,022 households) in North Western Zone and 80,583 IDPs (17,500 households) in Central Zone, according to the latest DTM findings.