ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Migration Agency, on Tuesday said more than 3.6 million people in Ethiopia were reached by it on COVID-19 prevention and mitigation support initiatives during the course of 2020.
The IOM said in a statement that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought on "immense challenges for Ethiopia, a country whose already strained healthcare system faces enormous challenges."
It also noted that with a population of 110 million people, there is only an estimated one doctor to 10,000 people in the East African country.
In the first year of the global pandemic, the IOM attended to a variety of beneficiaries including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), returnees and victims of human trafficking, as well as people living in host communities, it was noted.
The 3.6 million people reached by the IOM, among others, included vulnerable communities and more than 239,000 IDPs living in camp-like settings, according to the agency.
Assistance were also provided to over 43,000 Ethiopian migrants who returned home during the pandemic.
The IOM also stressed that in excess of 80 IOM staff deployed to various parts of the country and some 2,000 medical and healthcare practitioners were trained by the IOM to support the Ethiopian government's national response to the pandemic.
Many in the beneficiary groups, including children and other vulnerable persons, received personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, access to hand-washing facilities and other types of hygiene and sanitation, and information about COVID-19.
The IOM's COVID-19 response also included mental health and psychosocial support for vulnerable populations.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented challenges for mobile populations in the region, including vulnerable Ethiopian migrants stranded in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf, and the IDPs in Ethiopia living in congested displacement sites with limited access to water and sanitation facilities.
Ethiopia registered 153,541 COVID-19 cases, with 2,293 deaths as of Tuesday morning, making it the highest-COVID-19 affected country in the East and Horn of Africa region in terms of the number of confirmed cases.
According to the latest figures from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Ethiopia's COVID-19 cases accounted for about 4 percent of the African continent's total confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The Ethiopian government has been urging the public to implement COVID-19 precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus in Ethiopia -- Africa's second-most populous nation. Enditem