UN, Somalia speeds up efforts to evacuate over 2,400 flood-affected victims


Somalia and the United Nations said on Thursday that they have ramped up measures to evacuate more than 2,400 Somalis who are trapped by floods in the southern part of the country.

The Somali Disaster Management Agency (SoDMA) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said separately that they have secured two rescue boats to help in the evacuation exercise in the Luuq district.

“The boats will help evacuate people who are stranded in their homes by the rising waters,” the SoDMA said in a statement issued in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, adding that some boats will be deployed to the areas affected by the devastating floods across the country.

The move comes as the UN agency warned that more rains are expected in the coming days, with the forecast for Nov. 8-15 indicating very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall in southern Somalia and wetter than usual conditions in central and southern Somalia.

At least 29 people have so far been killed and more than 850,000 displaced following heavy rains and flash flooding in Somalia, according to the SoDMA. More than 300,000 people have been displaced across the country as riverine flooding along the Juba and Shabelle rivers continues to wreak havoc in the country.

The OCHA said another 14,000 people are reportedly cut off by flood water from Bardhere’s main town in southern Somalia, and the authorities are trying to deploy boats to evacuate them.

The trapped families are reportedly running out of food, the OCHA said, noting that the heavy rains, flash and riverine floods have temporarily affected more than 1.17 million and displaced over 334,800 people.

The UN agency said the intensity of rains has been exceptional in the Hiran, Bakool, Bay, Gedo, and Sakow districts in the Middle Juba region, with several areas having received far more rains in the last seven days than they would record over the October-December season.

“Partners and authorities are sparing no effort to respond to the unfolding emergency across the country by delivering life-saving assistance to accessible areas, but are hampered by access challenges as roads are either damaged or inaccessible, and air assets are limited while airstrips have become unusable,” it said.

The heavy rains come after Somalia suffered its worst drought in four decades following five failed rainy seasons, which has decimated livestock and crops, pushing the country to the brink of famine.

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