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As fighting continues in Rural Tigray, humanitarian access constrained

Aid worker killed, raising total to 5

Localized fighting and insecurity continues in rural parts of Tigray, though humanitarian workers have been able to access areas that were so far inaccessible in Tirgay region, particularly in cities, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Access to most parts of North Western, Eastern and Central Tigray remains constrained due to the ongoing insecurity and bureaucratic hurdles, according to OCHA.

In its latest update released on January 6, 2021, OCHA said the security situation in Tigray remains volatile with a gradual improvement in some areas in the Eastern and Western Zones.

In addition to the peripheries of Mekelle, it further listed key areas where the localized fighting and insecurity continues, with fighting reported in the peripheries of 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 refugee camps in the region, Hitsats and Shimelba are still not accessible,” the report detailed.

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 ensure safe and secure access to Tigray and bordering areas in Amhara and Afar Regions.

According to OCHA, as of January 4, 61 percent of cargo and mission requests have been cleared, but the clearance process took between 5 to 10 days. However, in some cases, partners could not travel to Tigray due to additional bureaucratic constraints at region/local levels, despite clearances received from federal authorities.

Citing the previously reported deaths of four humanitarian workers killed in the region, the latest report indicated that an additional humanitarian worker, who is said to have been associated with the international NGO, ZOA, has been killed in Hitsats refugee camp. The latest killing has already brought the number of aid workers reported to have been killed in Tigray to at least five, according to the report.

In addition to worsening situations, which make the humanitarian service more complex, OCHA’s latest report also indicates the 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 UN agency said.

According to the report, the two joint Government-humanitarian partners’ assessment missions, deployed to Tigray on December 20, 2020, have been completed. While the Southern Tigray mission visited Alamata, Enderta, Mehoni and Mekelle from December 20 to December 28, the Western Tigray mission visited Dansha and Humera from December 20 to December 30, 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 report states.

“The majority of 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 vandalism of public health centers and absence of health workers,” the report adds.

Accordingly, 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.