At least 273,000 people had to flee severe flooding of the Shabelle River in Somalia, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a report on Friday.
Calling for urgent humanitarian aid, the report said residents of the worst-affected region of Beledweyne were “sheltering under trees or in emergency tents after their makeshift homes were washed away by floods caused by torrential rain.”
“Floods have destroyed more than three-quarters of Baladweeyne [Beledweyne] and submerged many surrounding villages.
These are extremely poor parts of Somalia, where there is now no electricity and no safe drinking water. Livestock has been lost and agricultural production has been decimated,” Victor Moses, the NRC’s Somalia director, was quoted in the report.
“Our team is extremely worried about at least 30,000 vulnerable people displaced by flash flooding in Bardaale, further south.
These communities will need immediate response to survive and long-term support to recover,” he added.
“The country is already ravaged by drought, which has contributed to the displacement of around thousands of people so far this year. Vulnerable communities become more dependent on humanitarian aid and find it harder to recover,” said Moses.
The NRC cited figures by the UNHCR and NRC-led Protection Returns and Monitoring Network (PRMN), according to which some 273,000 people in October alone have been displaced by flooding.
In the recent flooding-related crisis, the total number of the displaced people in Somalia over a combination of floods, drought, and armed conflict so far this year climbed to 575,000 people, according to the report.
“Food reserves have been destroyed,[…]displaced people, particularly children, mothers and the elderly are at a high risk of hunger and illness. Water-borne diseases such as cholera could erupt and spread quickly. Stagnant waters are a breeding ground for mosquitoes and could result in a malaria outbreak,” Moses warned.
Highlighting the obstacles caused by ongoing armed conflict, Moses noted that Beledweyne as well as the entire region of Hiran “have not received sufficient humanitarian support due to ongoing security risks and the prevalence of armed actors in the area.
“This is already an extremely vulnerable community and we could see huge suffering and potential loss of life, if rain continues to fall and aid isn’t received in time. A coordinated, multi-sectoral humanitarian response is urgently needed to support thousands of people,” he said.
This comes while heavy rain is expected to hit Somalia, and more flooding along the two rivers of Shabelle and Juba in coming weeks, according to the report.
Landfall of a potential tropical storm is also expected to take place within the next 72 hours in eastern Africa, the report warned.
Somalia, which has been wracked by civil war for over two decades, has been grappling with a lack of cash and is now determined to collect more tax revenue from its vast ports and other sources to pay civil servants’ salaries and provide services.
The NRC in an earlier report last month announced that only 62% of the $1.08 billion UN humanitarian aid appeal for Somalia has been funded in 2019, and is unlikely to reach its goal by the end of the year.