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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Ethiopia - Syria

24 Jun 2021

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Samre town market, south-eastern Tigray, Ethiopia, April 2021. © OCHA Ethiopia/Jordi Casafont Torra

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 24 June 2021

Ethiopia

A statement was issued yesterday by the acting Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ramesh Rajasingham, expressing deep concern following reports of the bombing of a market in Togoga, Tigray, on Tuesday 22 June, that killed and wounded civilians.

The acting Emergency Relief Coordinator extended sincere condolences to the victims’ families and community and urged all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. 

He also called on Ethiopian authorities to carry out a prompt and effective investigation into Tuesday’s attack, and subsequent acts depriving victims of medical treatment, and to prosecute perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law. 

Today, OCHA reports that the security situation remains highly complex and extremely volatile, with ongoing hostilities and attacks, including on main roads, and use of artillery shelling reported in several locations.  

Humanitarian partners have reported challenges transporting medical supplies, food and non-food items to multiple locations, especially to hard-to-reach areas, due to the denial of access.

Food assistance remains the largest component of the humanitarian response. Under the latest response plan for Northern Ethiopia, since 1 May, about 3.7 million people out of the targeted 5.2 million people have received food assistance. 

Last week, more than 1,000 children received treatment for severe acute malnutrition and about 5,000 children for moderate acute malnutrition. More than 22,000 people received medical services in the second week of June.

While humanitarian partners continue to gradually scale up, the response is insufficient to meet needs. The UN continues to call for safe, unimpeded and sustained access. Funding is also urgently needed. 

Syria

Yesterday, the Secretary-General briefed the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria, highlighting that the situation today is worse than at any time since the conflict began. 

The Secretary-General strongly appealed to the Security Council to reach consensus on allowing cross-border operations as a vital channel of support for another year. 

Acting Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ramesh Rajasingham provided more detail on humanitarian needs and the response. He also echoed the Secretary-General’s call for an extension of the cross-border authorization, noting that with more crossings and more funds the UN can do more to help the rising number of people in need in Syria.

The acting Under-Secretary General also highlighted the alarming increase in hostilities in north-west Syria in the last month, which has resulted in civilian casualties and displacement. This included the 12 June attack that severely damaged the UN-supported Al Shifa’a Hospital in Afrin killing at least 19 civilians, including 3 children and 4 humanitarian workers. He reiterated that allegations of serious violations must be investigated, and perpetrators held accountable. 

He also focused on the high spread of COVID-19 in Syria, whose weak health system is already overstretched, with shortages of materials and trained personnel reported; on the impact of the economic crisis; as well as on the critical water shortages, especially in the north-east, where nearly 5.5 million people face reduced access to drinking water.