Following the withdrawal of the Ethiopian Defense Force from the major towns of Tigray on June 28, 2021 and combined with the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Federal government, the political dynamics have changed dramatically in Tigray Region. The interruption of essential services such as the blackout of electricity, telecommunications, and the internet throughout the Tigray region intensifies the already extreme humanitarian situation. The Shortages of cash and fuel in the Region significantly hampered partners' capacity to respond with full potential. Majority of the community in rural areas which were under active fighting for the last eight months are accessible however the cluster have very limited stocks in the Tigray region.
At the start of the year, the Cluster targeted 2.8 million; however, following the influx of IDPs in March and April, the Cluster increases its target to 3.9 million people, out of which 71 % are from Tigray. In the last six months, Cluster partners are able to reach 883,256 IDPs, returnees, and affected communities in Afar, Amhara, Benishangul, Oromia, Somali, SNNP, and Tigray regions; with the available resource, the Cluster will reach 42% of its target.
Coverage against targets
The quarter and has seen the conflict in Tigray Region continue. From mid-March, there was a large influx of IDPs into shire mainly from the Western Zone of Tigray. There has also been an influx of IDPs seeking assistance into the other main towns of Axum and Adigrat. This has created the need for the development of communal sites in which the cluster has been working with CCCM and the local government to identify suitable land. Access has improved during this quarter to the main towns of Mekelle, Shire and Adigrat however it has been unpredictable with areas been accessible for short periods of time. Partners have been able to conduct a number of needs assessments in which Shelter ESNFI has remained second to food as a priority need. At the end of March, there was an estimated 2 Million IDPs.
The conflict in other regions of the country has continued in East and West Wellega, Metekel zone in Benishangul Gumuz and Konso Zone in SNNPR through this quarter. In Metekel Zone access has become increasingly difficult with increased activities of UAGs and targeting of humanitarian vehicles. In Metekal zone they are estimated to be 206,076 IDPs with many more seeking refuge in neighboring Awi Zone of Amhara Region. In Awi Zone one communal site has been setup with an estimated 21,714 IDPS with many more opting to shelter in the host community.
The Shelter/NFI Cluster targeted 2.8 million IDPs, returnees, affected host communities, deportees, and migrants, emphasizing child- and female-headed households, the elderly, separated children, and people with disabilities and households at higher risk of illness. Preparations have started for the first round of EHF for 2021 which will target lifesaving activities.
In the first quarter of 2021, the Cluster has progressively assisted 357,424 vulnerable displacements affected population, inclusive of IDPs and returnees across Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, SNNP and Tigray regions. Component of response includes ENSFI in-kind, ESNFI in-cash, and mixed ESNFI (224,874), NFI kits (107,211) and (3,025) with shelter reconstruction and repair (Repair kit full, partial and mixed, minor shelter repairs kit, Cash for rent/Shelter) support. With this, the shelter & NFI cluster has achieved 13% of its target for the 2021 Response plan. In Tigary region shelter partners managed to respond to 172,721 with the response mainly being in the main towns.
Gaps / challenges
Insufficient funding remains one of the key constraints with the cluster currently funded to meet 11% of needs leaving a gap of 89%. The cluster has not been able to replenish the Clusters prepositioned stock which is concerning given the upcoming rainy season and election which could see additional displacement.
Many areas of Tigray Region remain inaccessible making it difficult to get an accurate overview of the needs; however, the initial reports indicate critical needs across the region. The Cluster will continue to advocate for unimpeded access to the region to conduct assessments and allow partners to respond. Further to this, the Cluster will advocate for the restoration of banking services to give the Cluster and partners the option for a CASH-based response.