The situation in northern Ethiopia remains generally calm but unpredictable, impacting humanitarian operations. In Tigray, some locations in the northern parts of the region, including some kebeles in Rama (Central Zone) as well as Erob and Zalambessa (Eastern Zone) and Western Zone continue to be inaccessible due to insecurity. Tensions around Sheraro in Tigray continue restricting some partners’ humanitarian activities. In Amhara, Abergele, Adi Arekay, Tsagibji, six kebeles in Zequala, two kebeles in Sekota Zuria and one kebele in Waja woredas continued to be hard to reach during the reporting period. In Afar, the road from Megale to Abala has access constraints due to security concerns. Overall, the safety and security in Zone 2 is still unpredictable, although much calmer than before.
Meanwhile, regional authorities in Afar, Amhara and Tigray continue to facilitate return of internally displaced persons (IDPs). In Afar, the first phase of these returns is targeting IDPs from Abala residing at Logia, Semera, Dubti, Guya and Harsuma IDP sites. The exact number of those who have returned is not yet known. In Tigray, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that more than 2,600 displaced households were registered, counseled, and supported to return voluntarily from Adigrat to their respective areas of origin during the reporting week. All returnees received cash, emergency shelter and non-food items (ES/NFIs).
IDP returns are ongoing amidst the devastating impact of the conflict across northern Ethiopia, including decimated ivelihood of communities and destruction of public infrastructure and basic services. After ensuring safety and security for safe returns of IDPs, it is essential to reinstate public services, such as health centers, schools, water, electricity, and banking services, as well as provide support for the prompt rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged and destroyed homes. IDPs at Dubti IDP site in Afar, for instance, expressed their hope that social services would be rehabilitated and there would be improved security in the respective kebeles of return ahead of their return, including clearing of explosive remnants of war and unexploded ordnance).
The food security and malnutrition rates in conflict-affected northern Ethiopia continues to be extremely concerning. The situation is particularly deteriorating in Afar IDP sites. Admissions of severely malnourished children to therapeutic feeding programs has increased by more than 30 per cent in March and by 28 per cent in April, compared to the average of the last five-years. Nutrition partners are providing support to malnourished children as well as pregnant and lactating women with available resources, but additional nutrition supplies are urgently needed to address the vast needs. Due to lack of targeted supplementary feeding (TSF) supplies in stock and inadequate funding, only 19 out of 33 woredastargeted for priority response by nutrition partners are receiving TSF services across the region.
Similarly in Tigray, extreme food insecurity is leading some IDPs to resort to eating wild plants to survive. While the arrival of additional humanitarian supplies into Tigray is expected to address some of these gaps, the scale of response is challenged by the lack of fuel to transport the supplies from Mekelle to different parts of the region. At least more than 334,000 liters of fuel (around 7 to 8 fuel tankers) are needed to distribute more than 42,000 MT of relief supplies within the region.
Overall, since road convoys movement resumed on 1 April, about 2,500 trucks carrying over 101,000 MT of cargo, of which86 per cent of the supplies are food and nutrition, have reached Tigray, including 21 fuel tankers. This includes 532 trucks, including 3 fuel tankers, arrived in Tigray during the reporting period. Since early April, trucks movement to Tigray followed an upward trend, from 170 trucks in April, to more than 1,100 in May and more than 1,200 in the first 13 days of June. In addition to road convoys, another 11 MT of supplies of health, nutrition, and agriculture were airlifted on behalf of 3 partners during the reporting period. Since airlifts started on 15 December 2021, a total of 765.2 MT of supplies or equivalent to 20 trucks has arrived in Tigray.
This included 54 per cent nutrition, 29 per cent health, 14 per cent ES/NFI, and 3 per cent of water, sanitation and hygiene and agriculture supplies.