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UN team travels to Somalia on flood assessment mission


A team of UN officials travelled to Somalia on Tuesday to assess flooding resulting from exceptional rains during the past few weeks, a UN statement released here said.

The UN team, including representatives of the World Food Programme, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation, as well as the Somalia Aid Coordination Body (SACB) and other aid agencies, will conduct an aerial and ground assessment.

A strategy for responding to the floods was to be announced Wednesday. The team will bring emergency supplies to relieve immediate distress, while determining what more needs to be done, the statement said.

The Shabelle River has flooded a village in southern Somalia's Lower Shabelle region, near the town of Merka, forcing several hundred families to flee to higher ground.

Other parts of the south are also affected by high river levels and flash floods. Areas of the Hiran and Bakol regions have recorded nearly all of the rainfall expected for this month in the first 10 days.

Heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands have also sent water coursing into Somalia's southern rivers, with their levels increasing from virtually dry to full and bursting in some areas in the past 10 days.

Although rains have eased in the northwest, northeast Somalia -- particularly Sanaag, Nugal and Mudug regions -- have experienced flash floods, which have washed roads and hindered trade, pushing up food prices.

Ironically, Somalia is now facing the twin effects of long-term drought and sudden flooding, the statement said. About 750,000 people throughout Somalia, particularly in the southwestern region, have been affected by persistent drought after regular rains failed three years in a row.


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