The United Nations and humanitarian partners are helping the Somali government cope with flash flooding on top of locust infestation and COVID-19, a UN spokesman said Thursday.

The seasonal monsoon-like rains intensified in the Ethiopian highlands and across Somalia, triggering flash flooding in several regions, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In the Bari region of Puntland State, six people reportedly died. Across Somalia, thousands of people have lost their homes and farms, he said.

The United Nations and humanitarian partners are supporting the government-led response efforts by carrying out assessments and providing food, water, sanitation, hygiene, health and shelter, he said. The flooding comes at a time when Somalia is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 500 confirmed cases and nearly 30 deaths, he added.

Somalia is currently burdened by the worst desert locust infestation in 25 years, on top of an already large humanitarian caseload and inadequate funding of the response plan, he said. The 2020 humanitarian response plan for Somalia calling for more than 1 billion U.S. dollars is only 18 percent funded, Dujarric said.

Moreover, COVID-19 restrictions necessary to stem the spread of the disease have prompted humanitarian agencies to reduce their footprint in the field and find new and innovative ways to stay and deliver, which requires additional resources, he said.

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