Thousands lose homes after flash floods in Somalia

Thousands lose homes after flash floods in Somalia

Heavy rains have forced more than 175,000 people across Somalia from their homes, the United Nations has said.

They were marooned after heavy rainfall saw rivers burst their banks this month. More rain is predicted next week.

“And worst is likely yet to come. With limited access to proper toilets and clean water, it’s a ticking time bomb for disease outbreaks like cholera and malaria,” said Victor Moses, country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

54,000 people in settlements near the capital Mogadishu have been affected by floods with main roads rendered impassable and large areas of crops damaged.

“We hoped to give people some more food security in the coming months when the crop matured, but that is at stake now when in some areas they have been completely destroyed,” NRC’s Moses told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

More than 174,000 people were affected in Baidoa, 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of the capital.

Another 120,000 people were displaced in Belet Weyne town – one of the worst affected areas – near Ethiopia’s border after the Shabelle river rose four meters and burst its banks.

“We’re having trouble getting aid into some of these areas. The runway there is not serviceable for fixed-wing aircraft, and we don’t have humanitarian helicopters,” Justin Brady, head of office for UNOCHA in Somalia, said on phone.

While the annual rains are expected to ease drought conditions caused by four consecutive poor rainy seasons, the flooding is likely to worsen a fragile humanitarian situation, the United Nations said.

Before the floods struck, an estimated 5.4 million people needed emergency aid, including food, water and shelter. Funding for humanitarian assistance was already insufficient and would now be further stretched, the United Nations said.