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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Afghanistan - Ethiopia - Somalia - Syria

20 oct 2021


People wait for food assistance at Guroro, Kola Tembern Woreda, in Tigray, Ethiopia, June 2021. © OCHA/Mulu Tesfay Araya

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 20 October 2021


The UN is alarmed by the escalating conflict in the north of Ethiopia, with reports of impact on civilians, including as a result of an air strike in Mekelle, Tigray, today. 

Initial information from the ground indicates that civilians were injured, including women and children. The UN is gathering more information. 

The UN repeats a call to all parties to the conflict to de-escalate across Tigray, Amhara and Afar to avoid further casualties and the suffering of civilians.

Humanitarian needs are also increasing in neighbouring Amhara and Afar, as the conflict spills over into these regions. 

More than 5.2 million people across Tigray – more than 90 per cent of the region’s population – need life-saving assistance, including nearly 400,000 people facing famine-like conditions.

All parties to the conflict must uphold international humanitarian law at all times and ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.


OCHA reports that UNICEF yesterday delivered nearly 40 tons of medical supplies, including kits and medicines for the treatment of acute watery diarrhoea to Kabul to treat rising cases of diarrhoeal diseases across the country. The medical supplies will help treat about 10,000 people.  

In the past weeks, the reported total number of cases of acute watery diarrhoea has surpassed 1,500 in Kabul city and surrounding districts. More medical supplies, covering the needs of an additional 90,000 people, are expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, experts [regional economic outlook published on 19 October by the International Monetary Fund] are warning that Afghanistan's economy is set to contract by up to 30 per cent this year. The resulting drop in living standards, they warn, threaten to push millions into poverty and could lead to a humanitarian crisis.

The Flash Appeal for Afghanistan, seeking just over US$606 million to help 11 million people through the end of 2021, is 45 per cent funded.


The UN is deeply concerned about ongoing and increasing hostilities in recent months in the north-west and the impact this is having on civilians.

Yesterday [19 October], artillery shelling was reported [in Qoqfin] in Idleb. One civilian was killed, and four others injured.

Artillery shelling was also reported in other parts of Idleb and in Western Aleppo [in the Kafr Taal community]. Air strikes were also reported in Bara town in southern Idleb countryside.

Today [20 October], several civilian causalities have been reported following artillery shelling in Ariha town, south of the city of Idleb.

The shelling reportedly occurred in a residential area and in the town market of Ariha, reportedly along a route used by schoolchildren. Initial reports indicate that as many as 10 people died, including at least 4 children and 2 women. More than 30 people were injured, many of them students.

The UN has recorded an escalation in hostilities since June, which have left at least 99 civilians dead and 261 injured.

The recent escalation is the most significant increase in hostilities in northwest Syria since the ceasefire agreement of March 2020.

The UN condemns all violence in Syria. We also remind all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law, including the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks and the obligation to take all feasible precautions to avoid and minimize harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.


OCHA says that climate shocks are aggravating the humanitarian situation in the country, which is bracing itself for a third consecutive below-average rainy season. 

As a result, the November cereal harvest in the north-west is projected to be 63 per cent below the 2010-2020 average. 

More than 250,000 people are facing severe water shortages, half of them in Jubaland State. There is also a reduction in pasture for livestock. 

This is affecting vulnerable people’s food security and nutrition.

Without humanitarian assistance, nearly 3.5 million people across Somalia will face crisis or worse levels of food insecurity by the end of the year. Some 1.2 million children under age 5 are also likely to be acutely malnourished – of these, more than 213,000 are projected to be severely malnourished. 

Water, food and health assistance are the most urgent humanitarian needs, according to humanitarian partners on the ground.

Humanitarian organizations are trucking water, providing cash vouchers and delivering nutrition supplies to people in need. 

They are, however, significantly constrained by the lowest funding levels in five years. Somalia’s 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan is only 50 per cent funded.