UN OCHA: Tigray Region Humanitarian Update

Ethiopia Tigray

(Source: UN OCHA) –

Highlights

  • Active hostilities remain the main access impediment for scaling up response in rural areas in addition to constrained communications
  • Humanitarian partners are scaling up response but can only fully implement with access constraints addressed
  • Three food operators have distributed more than 19,000 metric tons of food for the first round of assistance for 2021, reaching 1.1 million people across the region
  • COVID-19 screening started in all targeted 15 health facilities in Mekelle
  • At least US$443 million have been allocated to respond to the crisis but more is needed particularly for non-food assistance
Ethiopia
The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations. © OCHA
 
 

Key Figures

 

Background

Situation Overview

The security situation in Tigray remains largely unchanged this week – unpredictable and volatile. Active hostilities in Central, North-Western, Eastern, South-Eastern and Southern Tigray continue to be the main access impediment for scaling up operations in rural areas, restricting the freedom of humanitarian movement to reach all people in need. Furthermore, disrupted communications in several parts in the region is causing a delay in reporting and monitoring of progress of aid distribution. Challenges in visa extensions for staff of NGO partners is also restraining their capacity to continue with projects. Humanitarian partners were unable to reach the southern parts of Abergele Woreda (Central) since early March due to denial of movement by parties to the conflict. Humanitarian access to Southern Zone also remains restricted by parties to the conflict, with partners unable to mobilize assistance beyond Maychew town. Last week, food trucks were unable to reach food-insecure communities in Ofla and Neqsege Woredas.

In South-Eastern Zone, humanitarian partners had been unable to reach Samre and Saharti Woredas since early March. Access was possible, however, on 24 and 25 April, when an OCHA supported inter-agency humanitarian convoy, with UNHCR, Action Contre La Faim (ACF), Concern, and Catholic Relief Service (CRS)/local NGO REST, and World Vision reached Samre and Gijet towns. They delivered emergency food aid, nutrition supplies, non-food items, and established a health clinic in Samre Hospital, which was completely dysfunctional.

Women interviewed in Gijet told visiting humanitarians that lack of medical services are critical, noting the increase in women dying during childbirth and the number of children suffering from acute watery diarrhea as particularly serious. The women also highlighted the social stigma towards survivors of gender-based violence. While some gender-based violence (GBV) survivors are accessing services through the One Stop Centers and mobile medical teams, many other survivors, especially in remote areas, do not have access to services due to continued road closures related to insecurity, stigma around disclosing GBV, and lack of knowledge of the importance of receiving medical care within 72 hours. Furthermore, findings of a rapid protection assessment carried in Sheraro (North-Western Zone) identified GBV and youth situation as main protection concerns.

The population’s access to health care remains highly limited in rural areas. Health Cluster partners reported lack of essential medical equipment for hospitals and health care facilities, including oxygen cylinders in Shire, lack of essential medications for health partners and mobile health and nutrition teams, and lack of fuel for referral and ambulance services.

The scale of food insecurity continues to be large and dire. The interim Regional Administration has estimated that 4.5 million people need food assistance across Tigray region. An additional 631,775 displaced people were included in the plan for the 2021 round 1 (a round lasts about six weeks) food distributions. The main drivers of food insecurity include reduced purchasing power of households following loss of income or livelihood, increase in food prices, inaccessible and poorly functional market systems, lack of communication and network connectivity, and the dynamic movement of IDPs.

Restoring agricultural activities to its pre-conflict state in some of the accessible Woredas and supporting farmers with seed supplies are among the immediate needs to resume farming activities and to increase food products. Access to farming plots, input markets as well as to microfinance institutions and cash remains limited or absent.

COVID-19 cases have been reported among displaced people in Mekelle, amidst poor and overcrowded living conditions of IDP sites, with insufficient isolation centers for contact cases to mitigate a large-scale outbreak.

Please see details on ongoing responses and preparedness under the “Humanitarian Preparedness and Response” section below.

Analysis

Cross-Border Impact

Ethiopia/Eritrea

On 26 April, the US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed about the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in the country, including in Tigray. The Secretary pressed for Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s commitments to withdraw Eritrean troops from Tigray to be implemented immediately, in full, and in a verifiable manner. Secretary Blinken welcomed the joint Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation in Tigray to document human rights abuses. The Secretary noted his appointment of a Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa and noted that Ambassador Feltman would travel to Ethiopia in the coming days.

Ethiopia/Sudan

Since the start on the conflict in November, UNHCR has recorded an influx of asylum seekers at border entry points in East Sudan from Ethiopia. As of 27 April, some 63,087 individuals arrived from Ethiopia. UNHCR’s teams at the border areas of the eastern Sudanese states of Kassala and Gedaref are working with the Sudanese Commissioner of Refugees, local authorities and partners to monitor and respond to the situation, as well mobilizing resources to provide life-saving assistance services to the new arrivals. Inter-agency coordination and contingency response planning is well underway.

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Humanitarian Access in Tigray

Tigray acces with header (002)

 

Emergency Response

Humanitarian Preparedness and Response

There are currently 220 UN staff supporting the humanitarian response in the region (60 international and 105 national staff in Mekelle and 6 international and 49 national staff in Shire), and over 1,500 more aid workers with international and national NGOs. Humanitarian organizations continue to deploy additional staff to support the scale up of operations and ensure protection-by-presence amid reports of ongoing violence against civilians. There are 51 partners (Government, UN, NGO) operating across the region.

Food security remains the largest component of the humanitarian emergency response. As of 29 April, the three Food operators – the National Disasters Risk Management Commission (NDRMC), Joint Emergency Operation Program (JEOP) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – have distributed more than 19,000 metric tons of food for the first round of assistance for 2021, reaching 1.1 million people in 35 Woredas across Eastern, Central, North-Western, Southern and South-Eastern Zones.

At the same time, Nutrition Cluster partners screened more than 19,000 children under the age of 5 for malnutrition, of which 431 children were identified as severely malnourished and 3,473 as moderately malnourished. In the fourth week of April, some 466 severely malnourished children, including previous cases, received therapeutic feeding treatment. Meanwhile, some 4,447 pregnant and lactating women were screened for malnutrition, of which more than 60 per cent (2,721 women) were identified as acutely malnourished.

Capacity to operate mobile health and nutrition teams (MHNTs) has improved. Currently, the Regional Health Bureau and Health Cluster partners are operating more than 55 MHNTs in 57 Woredas compared to only 21 MHNTs covering 16 Woredas two weeks ago due to limited access and insecurity. COVID-19 screening started in all targeted 15 health facilities in Mekelle. Some 579 people were tested of whom 221 (38.1 per cent) were positive with four deaths (case fatality rate of 1.8 per cent).

Shelter Cluster partners have reached only 329,466 displaced people (11 per cent of the targeted 2.7 million people) with emergency shelter and non-food items. With completed, ongoing, and planned distributions, the cluster could reach 759,010 people (25 per cent of the target).

Additional camp management partners are needed to complete the new “Sabacare 4” IDPs site in Mekelle, which will accommodate more than 19,000 people. The gap at present is 506 shelter units, 316 latrines and 346 showers. Camp Coordination and Camp Management cluster partners are currently operating in 28 sites in Mekelle and Shire.

Two referral hospitals in Adigrat and Axum are now able to provide clinical management of rape and psychological services to survivors of GBV, with support from the INGO Médecins Sans Frontiere. UNFPA provided three clinical management of rape kits with life-saving medical supplies to these hospitals. In addition, GBV partners distributed 19 Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) kits to eight hospitals and health facilities in three rural areas.

Protection Cluster partners are working to increase delivery of assistance in hard-to-reach areas, to support protection mainstreaming and to conduct protection assessments. They joined an inter-agency mission on 25 April to Gijet, and another mission on 28 April to Samre (South-Eastern Zone).

So far, and since December 2020, the Logistics Cluster partners have facilitated the transport of over 2500 metric tons of humanitarian cargo on behalf of humanitarian partners along the main routes into Tigray, primarily Gondar – Mai Tsebri – Shire routes.

Meanwhile, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continues to verify and register Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in cooperation with the Government counterpart, the Agency for Refugees and Returnees Administration. As of 25 April, over 8,000 individuals from Hitsats and Shimelba had relocated to Adi Harush and Mai Aini camps. Refugees and asylum seekers are receiving food and core relief items upon arrival. UNHCR and partners carry out regular protection monitoring and provide protection counseling in Mekelle, Adigrat and Shire where over 1800 asylum seekers and refugees are registered.

Emergency Response

High Level Visits

On 26 April, Humanitarian Coordinator to Ethiopia, Catherine Sozi, along with heads of UNFPA and IOM, and the Ambassadors of Finland, Japan, and Canada visited Mekelle to assess and respond collaboratively with regional authorities to the increasing needs of conflict-affected populations in Tigray. The delegation visited “Sabacare 4” camp (under construction) for internally displaced people, the Ayder Hospital One Stop Center, which provides psycho-social and medical care to women and girl survivors of sexual gender-based violence, and a safe space for children of survivors.

Cluster Status

Agriculture

Needs

  • Restoring agricultural activities to its pre-conflict state in some of the accessible Woredas.

  • Seeds supplies (cereals, legumes, and vegetable seeds) to support the farming population to resume agricultural activities.

  • Livestock vaccines, drugs and vet equipment to support the vaccination.

  • Draft animal power support.

Response

  • FAO is responding to the immediate needs of restoring pre-conflict agricultural activities through the provision of emergency seed support to 20,000 conflict-affected farming households: 3,465 quintals (unit of weight equal to 100 kg) of improved wheat; 585 quintals of teff seed; and 3,000 quintals of chickpea.

  • So far, 1,700 quintals of seed are unloaded in Mekelle.

  • The INGO Feed-the-Future unloaded 600 quintals of improved maize this week.

Gaps

  • Limited physical access of farmers to farm their plots and to access input markets.

  • No access of farmers to microfinance institutions and cash. Debit, Credit and Saving Institutions have been closed since the start of the conflict.

  • Reports of farmers actively discouraged by a party to the conflict from starting farming activities during this rainy season.

Cluster Status

Education

Needs

  • No updates since the last reporting period.

Response

  • Some 2,789 children participated in accelerated school readiness programs since mid-March.

  • Accelerated learning program and early childhood care and development is also being provided by the INGO International Rescue Committee in Shire and Mekelle.

  • Support by Operation Rescue Ethiopia, some 175 children started non-formal education schooling in Hintalo Woreda.

  • Free play and child friendly spaces for 300 children is being provided by READ II and OSSAD in Mekelle IDPs sites.

Gaps

  • Delay in school reopening.

  • Delay in implementation of new programs by the Education Cluster partners.

Cluster Status

Emergency Shelter & Non-Food Items

Needs

  • COVID-19 cases were reported among displaced people in Mekelle amidst poor and overcrowded living conditions in IDP sites. There are insufficient isolation centers for contact cases to mitigate a big scale outbreak.

  • Lack of suitable land to construct the additional planned shelters in Shire.

  • Site assessment in Adwa is pending due to security reasons.

  • Authorities reported a continues increase of new IDPs across the region.

  • The number of IDP sites in Mekelle increased from eight in February to 22 during the reporting period, adding to the ES/NFI response and needs.

Response

  • Only 329,466 people (11 per cent of the targeted 2.7 million people) were reached with ES/NFI support. With completed, ongoing, and planned distributions, the cluster could reach 759,010 people (25 per cent of the target).

  • The ES/NFI Cluster partners are mobilizing resources to construct additional shelters in Adigrat, Adwa and Axum.

  • One displacement relocation site has been selected in Mekelle and is under development.

  • Two out of 4 proposed relocation sites in Adigrat were found feasible. Site assessment was carried out to identify appropriate relocation sites in the Shire.

  • The cluster completed a ‘Cash and Voucher Assistance’ training to partners implementing and/or planning to implement cash assistance in Mekelle on 27 April. Some 19 participants from 15 organizations benefited from the training.

Gaps

  • Response activities by partners were delayed amid alarmingly deteriorating IDP situation due to the ongoing heavy rainfall, increased IDP influx as well as insecurity.

  • Challenges with identifying appropriate relocation IDP sites in Shire.

  • Unavailability of some non-food items kits in the domestic market including standard plastic sheeting

  • Procurement of tarpaulins from international market.

  • Marked increase of prices of some commodities in the domestic market.

Cluster Status

Food

Needs

  • The interim Regional Administration has estimated that 4.5 million people need food assistance in the Region. An additional 631,775 displaced people were included in the plan for the 2021 round 1 food distributions (a round lasts about six weeks).

Response

  • As of April 29, the three food operators have distributed more than 19,000 Metric Tons (MT) of food for the first round of assistance for 2021, reaching 1.1 million people in 35 Woredas across Eastern, Central, North-western, Southern and South-eastern Zones.

  • The National Disasters Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) has allocated 10,839 MT of food for round 1 assistance and distributed 427 MT of food to 27,466 people.

  • Joint Emergency Operation Program (JEOP) has distributed 9,675 MT of food and reached 570,793 people in Central, Eastern, South-eastern and North-western Zones.

  • World Food Program (WFP) has distributed 10,092 MT of food reaching 595,375 people in North-western, southern and Eastern Zones.

Gaps

  • Due to access constraints, some of the food distribution points are set up in Woreda centers, requiring beneficiaries to walk long distance to receive their food entitlements, which is of significant weight (six-week food ration).

Cluster Status

Health

Needs

  • Movement restrictions due to security and access constraints hinders movement and reach of the mobile health and nutrition teams (MHNTs).

  • Lack of essential medical equipment for hospitals and health care facilities, including oxygen cylinders in Shire.

  • Lack of essential medications for health partners and MHNTs.

  • Regular access to fuel for referral and ambulance services is required.

  • There is need for a stabilization center for the management of severely malnourished children in Sheraro town.

Response

  • The Regional Health Bureau and Health Cluster partners are operating more than 55 MHNTs in 57 Woredas compared to only 21 MHNTs covering 16 Woredas two weeks ago.

  • A free Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) hotline opened in Mekelle for the provision of health information, counselling referral and targeting COVID-19, SGBV as well as other health emergency interventions.

  • Cluster partners and mobile health and nutrition teams have supported hospitals and health facilities to scale up where security permits, including distribution of medical supplies. Additional supplies are planned for this week.

  • Cholera preparedness plans are being finalized in Mekelle and Shire, while oral cholera vaccines request for IDPs and host communities is being finalised in Addis Ababa.

  • Plans are being developed to expand COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers and for people over 65 years and people over 55 years with comorbidities.

  • Ongoing prevention of and case management for people with COVID-19, including case management, contact tracing, initial risk communications and community engagement, and isolation.

Gaps

  • Lack of essential medical equipment, medications and supplies.

  • Poor or absence of referral systems.

  • Lack of fuel in Shire.

  • 24-hour access to health care services in most areas is not available due to security concerns.

  • Inadequate disease surveillance due to communication challenges.

  • Challenges in visa extensions for NGO partners to enable continuation of staff and projects.

Cluster Status

Nutrition

Needs

  • No updates since the last reporting period

Response

  • Some 19,324 children under the age of 5 were screened for malnutrition, of which 431 children were severely malnourished and 3,473 moderately malnourished. In the fourth week of April, some 466 of the severely malnourished (SAM) children, including previous cases, received therapeutic feeding treatment. This brings the total number of SAM children treated to 4234 since the third week of February.

  • Some 4,447 Pregnant and Lactating Women (PLW) were screened, of which 2,721 were identified as acutely malnourished and 1,822 PLWs and care takers of children under two years of age were counselled on Infant and Young Children Feeding (IYCF) intervention.

  • Some 4,296 children under five years received vitamin A supplementation.

  • Some 2,821 children aged 2 to 5 years received Albendazole (anti-worm medication).

  • Some 8,701 children and 6,061 PLWs received targeted supplementary food (TSF).

  • Some 19,712 children and 3,509 PLWs received blanket supplementary food.

  • A training on the management of acute malnutrition was provided to 15 health workers in seven health facilities in Mekelle (Kasech, Debri, Aynalem, Lekatit 11 Primary hospital) and Southern zones (Mekoni, Mekoni Primary hospital, Betemariam health clinic of Adishehu).

  • During the inter-agency visit to Samre on 28 April, UNICEF delivered 10 cartons of ready-to-use therapeutic food.

  • Nutrition partners also consulted with health workers during the above-mentioned visit on how active nutritional screening can be conducted with available platform of mobile health and nutrition teams.

Gaps

  • No updates since the last reporting period

Cluster Status

Protection

Needs

  • GBV, civilian character of IDPs sites and youth situation are identified as main protection concerns. This is from the findings of a Rapid Protection Assessment carried in Shiraro (North West zone) and presented at the Protection cluster meeting in Shire on 29 April.

  • Protection Cluster partners in Mekelle joined the interagency mission to Gijet, in Southern Tigray on 25 April. Interviewed women reported that lack of medical services are critical, noting the increase in women dying during childbirth and the number of children suffering from acute watery diarrhea as particularly serious. The women also highlighted the social stigma towards survivors of gender-based violence.

Response

  • GBV Areas of Responsibility (GBV AOR) and UNFPA visited two referral hospitals in Adigrat and Axum where One Stop Centers are being set up to provide survivors of GBV with comprehensive care.

  • The two referral hospitals above are now able to provide clinical management of rape and psychological services, with support from the INGO Médecins Sans Frontiere (MSF). UNFPA provided three clinical management of rape kits with life-saving medical supplies to these hospitals and to MSF for use at their mobile clinics.

  • Two additional One Stop Centers are also in the process of being established in Shire and Maychew.

  • GBV partners distributed 19 Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Kits to 8 hospitals and health facilities at rural area of Adwa, La’ ilay Maychew and Adigrat, including kits for a referral hospital to address obstetric emergencies. The SRH Kits will serve 800 women and 20 midwives with clean delivery supplies; 1,200 clinical deliveries; 3,860 adults with modern contraceptives methods; 400 adults and 80 children with clinical management of rape supplies; 240 pregnant women at risk of miscarriage or complications; 180 women in need of vaginal examination and suture of tears; 105 women needing a C-section; 4 health facilities with vacuum delivery equipment; 1 health clinic or hospital with referral equipment and supplies and 100 people in need of a blood transfusion, among others.

  • Efforts to raise awareness around the availability and importance of GBV services will continue.

  • Protection Cluster partners are working to access hard-to-reach areas to support protection mainstreaming and conduct protection assessments for assistance and advocacy purposes. They joined the interagency mission to Gijet on 25 April and a mission to Samre on 28 April.

  • Protection Cluster partners continue to engage with authorities and to advocate for IDPs without documents to be able to access services and assistance, with particular attention to the need to ensure access to birth certificates for new-borns.

  • A training conducted on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse for 16 participants from 10 INGOs, local NGOs and UN organizations.

Gaps

  • Many GBV survivors, especially in remote areas, are not accessing services due to continued road closures related to insecurity, stigma around disclosing GBV, and lack of knowledge of the importance of receiving medical care within 72 hours.

Cluster Status

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Needs

  • No updates since last reporting period.

Response

  • WASH partners and the Government Water Bureau continue to provide water trucking to more than 700,000 people.

  • Eighteen water trucks have been deployed during the week to reach nearly 14,000 people, bringing the number of water trucks deployed since the start of the response to 136 out of the required 285 trucks.

  • Three exploratory wells were rehabilitated.

  • A hydrogeological study for three wells in new IDPs sites Mekelle was completed

 

Gaps

  • Rural areas remain inaccessible where no maintenance or water trucking delivered

  • Interruption of water trucking operations in Hawzien, Hagereselam and Enticho due to access and security restrictions

Cluster Status

Camp Coordination and Camp Management

Needs

  • The “Sabacare 4” IDP relocation site in Mekelle needs to be completed. The site is expected to shelter 3,816 households (19,080 individuals).

  • Designation of a Government camp management entity is urgently needed to ensure a well-coordinated approach with the daily management and maintenance of IDP camps across Tigray.

  • Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster partners are currently operating in 28 sites in Mekelle and Shire. Funding is required to scale up operations in Adigrat, Axum, Abi Ady, Shiraro and Adwa.

  • At least 11 people in Yekatit 23 and Mai waine IDPs sites tested positive for COVID-19, of which five were admitted to a clinic. Six people remain in isolation.

Response

  • The cluster established IDP community leadership structures in 15 collective centers to strengthen community engagement and coordination. A database format for all sites was developed to capture details and contacts of all IDPs representatives.

  • IOM, in coordinated with UNHCR, gave a training on basic camp coordination and management to 20 staff of Elshadai Relief and Development Association.

  • IOM and UNHCR organized a two-day training on basic camp coordination and management and protection monitoring to 27 Government officials and NGO staff working in Shire.

  • The ES/NFI Cluster partners are mobilizing resources to construct additional shelters in Adigrat, Adwa and Axum.

Gaps

  • Cross-cutting funding gaps across CCCM/Shelter and WASH clusters for “Sabacare 4” site.

  • Additional camp management partners are needed to complete the new “Sabacare 4” IDPs site. The gap at present is 506 shelter units, 316 latrine and 346 showers.

Cluster Status

Logistics

Needs

  • Additional food operators are needed to complement ongoing efforts to deliver aid to areas that have not been reached for over three months.

Response

  • The Logistics Cluster has facilitated the transport of over 2500 metric tons of humanitarian cargo on behalf of its partners along the main routes into Tigray, primarily Gondar – Mai Tsebri – Shire routes, since December 2020.

  • In the reporting period (24 April to 30 April), cluster partners facilitated the transport of 78 metric tons of NFI and nutrition cargo to Tigray on behalf of five partners.

  • The cluster is increasing its storage capacity and has now established seven storage hubs and common transport from Addis Ababa, Adama, Kombulcha, Semera, Gondar, Mekelle and Shire.

  • Shire logistic hub is now operational, with 640 square meters of storage space available to partners.

  • The cluster is expanding staffing capacity to fill gaps and provide extra capacity where needed. A Roving Logistics Officer is joining in mid-May, while recruitment of a second staff is ongoing.

  • The cluster is purchasing 120 Mobile Storage Units (around 38,000 square meters) to cover storage needs, where required.

  • The cluster is currently supporting 29 partners in the Tigray response. The cluster is on standby to facilitate access to a dedicated WFP fleet to support humanitarian partners, should commercial transport become unavailable.

Gaps

  • Ongoing insecurity is the main challenge of the response.

Coordination

Regular Meetings

The Inter-Cluster Coordination Groups (ICCG) have been activated in Mekelle and Shire and are holding regular meetings. However, Tigray UN-led clusters have very varied levels of capacity in the region and all clusters urgently require a dedicated full-time coordinator in place.  Coordination platforms are being strengthened. All Government-led clusters have an established coordination forum in Mekelle, while all but four have set up coordination structures in Shire. The Interim Administration-led Tigray ECC continues to meet weekly with all clusters and with the humanitarian community.

Emergency Response

Funding Update

As of 5 May, the humanitarian community has allocated at least US$443 million to respond from the outset of the Tigray crisis, including $381 million in bilateral funding, $25 million in multilateral funding and $37 million re-allocated/repurposed from existing resources. UN agencies and NGOs have used their core and or private funds to ‘front-load’ emergency response. Humanitarian partners continue to flag challenges with capacity and resources to be able to scale up to the level needed to respond across Tigray.

 

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