(Source: Xinhua, ADDIS ABABA, 20 February 2021) –
The humanitarian response in Ethiopia’s conflict-affected Tigray regional state remains “drastically inadequate” despite some progress, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said Saturday.
“Despite some progress, the humanitarian response remains drastically inadequate compared to the sheer magnitude of needs across the region,” the agency said in its latest situation update.
It noted that recent assessments in sites for displaced people in the regional capital Mekelle, as well as Shire and Adigrat cities highlighted “a dire situation while more people move to urban areas in search of assistance.”
The UNOCHA stressed that “reports of fighting increased in the past week, and partners continue to note that the presence of various armed actors hinders their response.”
According to the UNOCHA, some clusters, including shelter, health, water, sanitation and hygiene, education and protection, require urgent funding to scale up the response.
Although more than 71 percent of the funding requested early in the conflict has been received, some critical sectors including water, sanitation and hygiene, health, shelter, education and protection remain underfunded, it was noted.
The agency also stressed that the “rapidly increasing needs” will require more resources, especially now that access has started to improve.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP), for example, informed that more than 107 million U.S. dollars will be required to provide food assistance to 1 million people for the next six months, as well as blanket supplementary intervention for 875,000 children and pregnant and lactating mothers.
The amount is said to be well above the initial 25 million million U.S. dollars requested by the food security cluster.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Thursday also stressed that many refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities “have endured more than three months of conflict with extremely limited assistance, leading to a significant escalation in humanitarian needs.”
According to the UNHCR, the security situation “remains volatile” especially in rural areas, and in and around Shire, affecting civilians and constraining humanitarian actors on the ground.
The UNHCR, however, said basic services have gradually resumed in parts of Tigray. It also stressed that electricity and banking services remain intermittent.
On Wednesday, Ethiopian authorities said sabotage on electricity lines has left the region in total darkness.
In a press statement, the Ethiopia Electricity Power (EEP), said sabotage by “Junta remnants” on a high voltage electricity transmission line carrying electricity from Alamata city in southern Tigray to Mekelle, the Tigray regional capital, has forced the region to be in a total electricity blackout.
The EEP said it’s working to repair the damaged high voltage electricity line.
“Junta remnants” is used to refer to forces aligned with the ex-ruling party of the Tigray region, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is now forced to operate in rural parts of the region.
According to Ethiopian government figures, the Tigray region conflict has resulted in the displacement of around 2.2 million people, while 4.5 million people are in need of emergency aid.