somalia refugees

More than 32,000 children including their families have fled the impact of Gati, the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in Somalia on record, a global charity said on Wednesday.

Save the Children said about 70,000 people, including 32,000 children, have been forced to flee after the cyclone wreaked devastation across Puntland state in northeast Somalia.

“As in all humanitarian crises, children are among the most vulnerable, and this storm has worsened a pre-existing crisis for young people in Somalia,” Mohamoud Hassan, Save the Children’s country director for Somalia said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

Heavy rains and strong winds of 115 mph have triggered flash flooding, causing at least 40,000 people to lose their homes.

In the Bari region of Puntland, heavy rainfall is still ongoing and causing flooding, making the total number of victims likely to rise in the coming days. Hassan said most of the affected people are from pastoralist families, whose livelihoods had already been severely damaged by recurring droughts over the past few years.

“Their herds have dwindled, making their situation extremely difficult even before this storm hits. Many had already been displaced and had little protection against extreme weather events like this cyclone – and now they are without access to even the most basic shelter,” he added.

According to the charity, over the past year, locust swarms destroyed the crops of hundreds of farms and severe flooding has already displaced thousands of families in the south of the country.

“Like everywhere else in the world, people in Somalia have not been able to escape the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the poorest and most vulnerable people the hardest and brought about a huge loss of livelihood,” Hassan said.

The statement comes as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said the tropical storm Gati that developed on Nov. 22 and intensified on the following day lost its intensity and dissipated in the last 12 hours.

However, FAO said light to moderate rains associated with the storm passage will continue to be felt until the end of Thursday.

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