This is because the transport of humanitarian supplies to Tigray, through the Semera-Abala-Mekelle corridor, has been suspended since December 14, 2021 due to the ongoing fighting in Abala, Afar. Fuel for humanitarian operations has not been allowed into Tigray along this route since August 2, 2021, and organizations are also unable to secure sufficient fuel locally.
Between January 6 and 12, some 10,500 people received food assistance in Tigray under the current food distribution cycle; more than 800,000 people should be assisted every week. This is the lowest level of food assistance since operations were expanded in March of last year. The partners also reported that the remaining food reserves can only help 28,000 people.
A measles vaccination campaign launched in the first week of January continues to reach more than 145,000 children to date, out of nearly 800,000 in need. However, health partners report that the campaign faces serious challenges, including a lack of fuel and cash, limited cold chain capacity and a shortage of health workers.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian response is expanding in accessible areas in Amhara and Afar. In Amhara, more than 578,000 people received food assistance last week, and more than 40,000 received shelter and non-food items. IDPs continue to return to their places of origin in Amhara, with hundreds of thousands of people estimated to have returned. Assessments of returns and the humanitarian situation in areas of return are ongoing. In Afar, more than 47,000 people received food assistance last week. And 30 mobile health and nutrition teams continue to provide essential nutrition services in remote and conflict-affected communities.
Two relief flights from New Zealand and Australia landed at Tonga International Airport on January 20, hours after the airport reopened to traffic. The planes brought much-needed humanitarian assistance and relief supplies, including water and sanitation, hygiene, shelter and communication equipment, as well as power generators.
Assessment teams have reached most of the country, including remote and isolated islands. National disaster authorities and their partners, including the Tonga Red Cross Society, are conducting initial damage assessments on the main island of Tongatapu (with the capital Nuku’alofa) and the Ha’apai group of islands. UN staff in Tonga are supporting the government’s assessment and response efforts and will support the distribution of stocks in the country once humanitarian needs are identified.
On January 19, the UN Resident Coordinator received a request for urgent assistance from the Government of Tonga. The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster is coordinating with local, regional and global partners in the deployment of critical communications equipment. This will ensure that the government and first responders have access to communication tools to coordinate the response and allow affected individuals to communicate with family.
Access to clean water for 50,000 people across the island nation remains a serious concern. Water quality testing is ongoing, and most people rely on bottled water. Water units and water purification and desalination equipment are being shipped to Tonga. Oxfam is operating a water treatment unit. It is estimated that some 60,000 people have been affected by damage to the agricultural sector (crops, livestock, fishing) due to ash fall, saltwater intrusion and the potential for acid rain. There are also reports of fuel shortages, but gasoline supplies are arriving as part of a regular shipment and thanks to additional support from Australia.
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