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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Ethiopia - Niger - Yemen

23 Mar 2021

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A doctor treats a refugee from the Tigray region of Ethiopia at a makeshift clinic in Sudan. © UNHCR/Will Swanson

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 23 March 2021

Ethiopia

In a statement issued yesterday, senior UN and INGO officials called on all State and non-State parties to the conflict in Tigray region to ensure their forces respect and protect civilian populations, particularly women and children, from all human rights abuses; explicitly condemn all sexual violence; and take action to bring perpetrators to justice where abuses do occur.

This call comes amid a worsening humanitarian situation in Tigray, where indiscriminate and targeted attacks against civilians are reported, including rape and other horrific forms of sexual violence.

Women and children in affected areas are reporting significant challenges in accessing health, social welfare and justice services. Initial assessments of 106 facilities in Tigray between December 2020 and March 2021 show that nearly 70 per cent of facilities were looted, 30 per cent damaged, and only 13 per cent in Tigray were functional.

Childhood vaccination services were observed in only 28 per cent of facilities and comprehensive nutrition services available in approximately 29 per cent of functioning facilities.

Only one facility provides the full range of services for clinical management of rape survivors, and emergency contraception is fully available in less than half of the facilities assessed.

The signatories also called for humanitarian access and additional resources to get aid staff and supplies into Tigray.

 

Niger

The attack on 21 March by unidentified gunmen in the Tahoua region of Niger has reportedly killed 137 civilians.

The Government, the UN and humanitarian partners will conduct a rapid assessment in the area to assess the humanitarian needs of the affected communities very soon.

The first quarter of the year is marked by an upsurge of violent and deadly attacks by non-State armed groups, especially in Tillabery and Tahoua regions bordering Mali, which currently host 204,000 refugees and internally displaced people.

Since January, at least 290 civilians have been killed during these attacks. This is more than 50 per cent of the number of civilians killed in attacks all last year.

The escalation of violence continues to affect access to basic services including education and health care. In 2020, some 342 schools were closed, pushing more than 34,000 children out of school, and the closure of 70 health centres.

This year, 3.8 million people in Niger need humanitarian assistance, compared with 2.9 million last year.

 

Yemen

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported yesterday the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in one day in the county since the start of the pandemic. Some 140 cases were confirmed, bringing the total caseload to 3,422. The second highest one-day recorded caseload was on 16 June 2020, with 116 confirmed cases.

This an alarming upward trajectory in Yemen, as COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 50 per cent over the last month.

These figures greatly underestimate the actual COVID-19 caseload in the country, as underreporting is widespread due to many factors, including limited testing capacities and a reluctance to seek testing and treatment.

In addition to COVID-19, Yemenis are at risk of multiple infectious diseases including cholera, dengue and malaria, while the country’s public health system is overwhelmed, with only half of health facilities fully functional.

Under the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, the UN and partners aim to provide health assistance to 11.6 million people this year. Urgent funding is needed to support these efforts, mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the public health system from collapsing. This year, humanitarian agencies need US$3.85 billion to assist 20.7 million people across Yemen, while only 10 per cent of this funding has been received so far.

A first allocation of 2 million vaccine doses through the COVAX facility is expected to arrive in the coming weeks.