from SAAD MUSE in Mogadishu, Somalia
MOGADISHU, (CAJ News) – THAT, as much as 85 percent of the central city of Beledweyne is now submerged by water shows the severity of the floods battering Somalia.
Around 250 000 people have been evacuated to higher ground, following weeks of heavy rains.
Climate extremes are wreaking havoc in the Horn of Africa nation.
Severe floods have now hit many areas that have been devastated by three years of Somalia’s worst drought in decades.
“People are in a desperate situation,” said Mowlid Osman Mohamud, an Islamic Relief aid worker in Beledweyne.
“Almost the whole city is underwater and most of the population is now displaced and sheltering in camps that don’t have enough clean drinking water, shelter, food or healthcare.”
There is increasing concern about outbreaks of water-borne diseases and malaria as people survive in crowded and poor conditions.
The flooding has destroyed many homes and people have also lost their assets and food.
Beledweyne was already hosting more than 100 000 internally displaced people (IDPs) who had fled to the city to escape drought and conflict.
Flood water has washed away tents and submerging latrines. The plastic sheeting covering people’s tents has been worn away by the severe heat and drought of the past few years, so now cannot withstand the heavy rain.
Somalia is already in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 8,3 million people – half the population – in need of humanitarian aid and 1.5 million children under five acutely malnourished from the drought.
Now the floods are likely to make the food crisis even worse – in Beledweyne farms have been temporarily abandoned and food prices have also shot up.
Meanwhile, floods are impacting the fight against the terrorist Al-Shabaab group.
The recent El Nino-induced floods have affected offensive operations by the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and Somali security forces against these Islamist insurgents.
The floods have also inundated about 20 ATMIS Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and surrounding communities, impacting service delivery.
Flooding has made main supply routes impassable, curtailing ground support delivery to ATMIS troops located in the FOBs.
“Some of the FOBs are in a lake. It is a huge challenge for ATMIS troops,” Michael Dorn, United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) Deputy Chief of Service Delivery, said.
Concern is rising over the general hygiene and health of troops and surrounding communities.
Somalia has been battling the Al-Shabaab insurgency since 2006.
– CAJ News