Humanitarian agencies beef up relief efforts in Somalia

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Somalia flag
Somalia flag

Somali authorities and humanitarian agencies have urgently ramped up response activities to mitigate the devastation caused by heavy rains, flash and riverine floods, reaching at least 743,000 people across Somalia with various forms of aid, the United Nations said on Friday.

Vast swathes of farmland have been engulfed, properties destroyed and infrastructure damaged, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), adding that aid agencies are mobilizing boats to evacuate families trapped by the flooding. “Efforts are underway to drain water from the schools, but authorities are appealing for support to accomplish the task,” the OCHA said in its latest floods update. According to the agency, heavy rains and flooding have extended to more areas of Somalia, with 33 of Somalia’s 74 districts now deluged compared to 21 two weeks ago.

The 2023 seasonal Deyr (October to December) rain season has resulted in heavy rainfall and flooding across Somalia, exacerbated by El Nino and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole, particularly in Puntland, Galmudug, South West, Hirshabelle and Jubaland states. The floods have also swept away 14 more people, pushing the death toll to 55, including 14 children, according to the UN. However, the Somali government said Thursday at least 96 people died while nearly 2 million people were affected by the raging floods.

The OCHA said the expanding emergency has affected at least 1.7 million people across Somalia, of whom 695,000 are displaced from their homes, an increase of 41,000 from last week. It said a significant increase in cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD)/cholera has been reported, with 383 cases recorded in 21 districts, a 43.5 percent increase compared to last week. The humanitarian agencies have expressed concern that contaminated stagnant water around the schools poses a serious risk of waterborne diseases for children. “Efforts are underway to drain water from the schools, but authorities are appealing for support to accomplish the task,” the OCHA said.

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