The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says it has been getting increasing amounts of aid to the war-torn Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. But in its latest situation report, released Thursday, OCHA warned malnutrition rates are critical and alarmingly high, and despite a November peace deal between Ethiopia’s federal and Tigrayan authorities, the access to provide relief aid remains difficult in some areas.
The report said between mid-November, following the cessation of hostilities, and the end of December, more than 3,000 trucks carrying food, as well as health, shelter, water and other supplies, have been brought into the northern region through four road corridors. Airlifts of nutrition and health supplies have also been delivered, along with regular humanitarian passenger flights to scale up the response.
Since mid-November, food has been distributed to more than 2.2 million people. Overall, humanitarian partner organizations have assisted more than 3.3 million people. Despite the Ethiopian government allowing increasing amounts of aid to Tigray since the peace deal, the report said some areas were still out of reach, including border areas in the north and areas off the main roads. OCHA also warned that malnutrition rates remain alarming high. One third of children screened in late December were acutely malnourished – 4 per cent of them severely malnourished.
According to the report, there continues to be gradual improvements in the resumption of basic services in Tigray for the population. Ethiopian Airlines has now resumed passenger flights to Mekelle and Shire. The first bank resumed some operations in Mekelle January 2nd, with some having re-opening in other parts of Tigray in December. Telecommunications and electricity supply have been restored and improving as infrastructure restoration works continue, including water supply systems in several towns. However, full banking services, public transportation and the delivery of commercial supplies have not yet resumed.
OCHA said humanitarian needs also remain extremely high in parts of neighboring Afar and Amhara regions that have been impacted by the war in northern Ethiopia. The distribution of food and other assistance continues, although gaps remain, including in areas where people are returning to their homes.
According to the report, clashes are being reported in Ethiopia’s southern Oromia region. Ethiopia’s Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups blame each other for allegedly deadly attacks since November. OCHA said aid access to Oromia region was difficult, with ongoing conflict displacing more people. As of December 30, more than 14,000 people fleeing conflict from Oromia arrived in Amhara region.
Meanwhile, in eastern and southern parts of Ethiopia, communities continue to suffer from the devastating drought which has been impacting the Horn of Africa as a whole. Nearly 12 million people are estimated to be food insecure, and more than 8.6 million people are in need of water and sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance across the drought-affected areas. An active cholera outbreak also continues in parts of the Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia. As the humanitarian response is being scaled up in drought-affected areas, more resources are needed.
In another development, the African Union (AU) reported Thursday it had successfully deployed the full team of the AU Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission (AU-MVCM) in Mekelle. The deployment of African experts in Tigray to monitor the implementation of the permanent cessation of hostilities is consistent with Article 11 of the cease-fire agreement, signed on November 2, 2022.
The November peace deal between Ethiopia’s federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) ended two years of war and lifted aid and services blockades to the region. On November 2, the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray Peoples' Liberation Front announced a ceasefire after peace talks in Pretoria, mediated by the African Union. The terms of the cease-fire agreement commit the federal government to facilitating unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray. On November 12, military commanders representing Ethiopia’s government and the TPLF signed a deal in Nairobi establishing the modalities for the implementation of the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA).
Full text: Ethiopia - Situation Report, 5 Jan 2023, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, released January 5, 2023
Full text: The African Union successfully deploys the full team of its Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission in Mekelle, Tigray Region of Ethiopia, AU press release, published January 5, 2023