Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire has appealed to the international community for humanitarian support to help avert a humanitarian crisis as floods uproot hundreds of thousands.

Khaire said the situation was fast escalating as aid agencies warned that close to half a million people had been affected in south-central regions of the country. “We have all agreed to put our efforts together to help those who have been affected the floods,” the prime minister said on Saturday evening after commissioning a 22-member team to spearhead the response. He also called on envoys who also attended the meeting to step in while urging Somalis to contribute resources to stem the crisis after more than 400,000 Somalis have been affected by the flooding including 175,000 others who have been displaced. “We urgently call on the various sectors of the community such as clerics, women, parliamentarians and aid agencies to consult on emergency response to our people affected by floods,” Khaire said.

Thousands were still moving Saturday from their homes in central regions as the River Shabelle burst its banks inundating Baladweyne town in central Somalia. African Union troops joined in on Saturday to transport families to safe grounds. The Norwegian Refugees Council said on Friday that upwards of 400,00 people had been displaced along the Shabelle and Juba rivers which emanate from Ethiopia draining into the Indian Ocean. The humanitarian appeal follows an ongoing drought relief efforts in the country which the UN has warned could still spiral into a famine. The committee to be chaired by deputy prime minister will oversee the response in coordination with the ministry of humanitarian affairs. The prime minister said his government will urgently respond to prevent the crisis from deteriorating into a catastrophe, adding that the committee will soon start efforts to help the victims who are currently in dire need of assistance.

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