Commercial activity in the Tigray region of Ethiopia is hampered by the ongoing crisis that began with fighting nine months ago. Over the last two weeks, since commercial traffic ground to a halt, food prices are skyrocketing. Banks throughout the region are now closed, and people are running out of cash to cover basic needs.
Factories sit damaged or destroyed. Many businesses are closed, leaving people out of work; and affecting the availability of essential goods and services, including healthcare.
The only company producing oxygen went out of business and the few functioning hospitals - submerged with referrals from no longer functioning primary healthcare centers - are all facing shortages as the country continues to address the Covid-19 crisis. Healthcare facilities and water treatment plants also largely continue to run on generators, with no regular provision of electricity or fuel in the region.
"People are showing incredible resilience and solidarity with each other in this crisis," said Nicolas Von Arx, the Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Addis Ababa. "However, their reserves and savings are exhausted. Restoring normal commercial activity and supply chains is also vitally important. Humanitarian assistance can't replace them."
Following renewed fighting in June, ICRC delivered medical supplies and hospital equipment to five hospitals in Amhara and Tigray regions: Sekota general hospital, Lalibela general hospital, Gondar university hospital, Aykel primary hospital and Ayder university hospital. These supplies are sufficient to treat 250 critically or 900 moderately wounded people; and 3000 people with other medical conditions.
In addition, there is a medical consignment for fourteen health facilities, both PHC's and hospitals, ready to be shipped to Mekelle in a convoy to help address needs in rural areas.
The ICRC also provided financial assistance to rehabilitate Mekelle General Hospital's Covid-19 ward, as cases continue to rise in the region and the ward the only serving facility.
The ICRC started to rehabilitate Suhul hospital in Shire and Shiraro Hospital; and donated spare part for the water treatment plant of Ayder hospital, as well as generators for Humera, Dansha and Maikadra hospitals.
In collaboration with the Ethiopian Red Cross, the ICRC continued supplying water through water trucking in order to immediately support Tigray's most vulnerable communities. The ICRC also continued its donation of chemicals to water treatment plants in order to maintain safe water production as the rainy season threatens the return of various water-borne diseases.
In addition, the rehabilitation of electromechanical materials such as pumps, generators and replacement of filters is taking place in different parts of Tigray and Amhara regions; this includes rehabilitation and replacement of handpumps.
With the ongoing communications blackout, the ICRC continues to provide phone calls or written messages to restore family links and to help individuals dispersed in and out of Tigray to maintain contact with their loved ones. These services have been used by university students, persons at risk and members of the general population from different parts of the country.