Humanitarian Team Seeks Clarity on Red Zone Activities


Huge swathes of drought affected regions are under the 'red zone' curve




A request for clarification on modus operandi of aid supply within the Red Zones under the state of emergency has been tabled for the Command Post.

The request for clarification from the Ethiopian Humanitarian Country Team (EHCT) was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and forwarded to the Command Post. The EHCT is mandated with strategic and operational oversight of humanitarian aid. It is a body composed of representatives of the United Nations, other international NGOs, the Red Cross/Red Crescent organisations and donors.

Nearly 9.7 million Ethiopians and more than 760,000 refugees from neighbouring countries are in need of humanitarian assistance due to the El Niño related drought. Some of them are among the estimated 10 million people living within the bounds of the Red Zones.

“The need for clarification arises due to the fact that having huge numbers of people gathering together is unavoidable,” a representative of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told Fortune.

“Such large assemblies of people under the state of emergency require a clear understanding on the basis of specific and formal clarity.”

Attorney General Getachew Ambaye clarified some of the restrictions set forth by the state of emergency directives in a press conference last week. According to his clarification, free movement is allowed in the Red Zones. The restrictions apply to infrastructure and investment and industrial projects and areas. He further clarified that the restriction on meetings applied only to protests, rallies, and “peace disturbing” activities.

The EHCT request points out the need for confirmation that the movement and humanitarian response activities in designated ‘Red Zones’ will be protected. Particular cases including the work with newly-arriving refugees in Gambella, and response to Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) in Northern Amhara region on the Sudanese border, and in Somali region have been specifically identified.

ECHT has also asked for the clarification on the operation of aid distribution in the Red Zones to be communicated throughout the structure of the Command Post, and to note that major parts of the humanitarian response depend on public gatherings and community mobilisation.

The Red Zones are areas where the Command Post’s directives are especially enforced. These areas include the country’s borders in all directions, and 50 Km inwards from all borders. The Red Zones also include nine major roads : Addis Abeba – Djibouti; Addis Abeba – Shashamane – Dolo; Addis Abeba – Harar; Addis Abeba – Assossa; Addis Abeba – Gambella; Addis Abeba – Gebre Guracha; Addis Abeba – Shashamane – Moyalle; Gonder – Metema and Gonder – Humera.

Regions affected by the Red Zone classification include some of the areas most urgently in need of humanitarian aid. These regions include Eastern Tigray, many areas in Afar region and Borena in Oromia region, all of which were completely or partly classified as Priority 1 regions.

Regions affected by the El Nino related drought crises are given priority level designations by the government and UN representatives to indicate the severity of the crisis. Accordingly, humanitarian emergency situations, acute livelihood and food crises but not to the level of an emergency, and areas having crises present are designated as priority 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

The current drought was the worst in Ethiopia in half a century, with the worst drought impact in the country’s history recorded in December of 2015, leaving 10.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

After a joint campaign between the government and aid organisations that included providing food assistance to almost 9 million people, the Joint Government and Humanitarian Partners’ Ethiopian Humanitarian Requirement Document’s Mid-Year Review, released in August, showed that half a million people were moved out of the dangerous classification. Further interventions until the end of the year will cost an estimated 800 million dollars.

As of July 2016, the most affected regions were spread all over the country, including the northern and eastern and some southern parts of Ethiopia. Large parts of Oromia region and most of Afar region were extremely affected by the drought, as were Tigray and Somali regions.

Improved road access across the country since the declaration of the state of emergency has allowed for better movement of relief items to the affected areas and for distribution to resume in areas where activities may have been suspended.

Although there have been recent events of looting and damage to relief assets including warehouses, the OCHA representative says that humanitarian partners remain committed to their support of the government’s humanitarian response.



By MENNA ASRAT
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Nov 01,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 861]


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