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UN Team Assesses Somalia's New Emergency Needs

 

Somalia is facing a new emergency situation as a result of the twin effects of long-term drought and sudden flooding this week.

According to the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator's Office for Somalia in Nairobi, the combined effects have affected the livelihood of about 750,000 people, mostly in the south-western part of the country.

Heavy rains in the past three weeks have caused deaths and damaged infrastructure in the region, which is reeling under the effect of a three-year drought.

A team of UN officials Tuesday travelled to southern Somalia for a one-day rapid flood assessment mission.

"The UN - including representatives from the World Food Programme, UNICEF, WHO as well as partners in the Somalia Aid Co- ordinating body and other aid agencies were conducting an aerial and ground assessment for a flood response strategy," the co- ordinator's office said a statement.

Results of the assessment will be announced Wednesday when the UN team will determine an initial batch of emergency supplies to relieve immediate distress and what more needs to be done.

"This drought has rendered the region more vulnerable during floods, because parched land is less able to absorb rain water and run-offs leach soils of nutrients essential for agricultural activity," the office explained.

The flooding in southern Somalia has affected several settlements, forcing hundreds of families to seek refuge on higher ground, while in other areas, river banks were showing signs of strain, threatening lower-lying plains.

River Shabelle Friday night flooded one village near Kurtunwarey in lower Shabelle region, sweeping away houses and drowning livestock and forcing hundreds to flee to higher ground.

The displaced are now camped beneath trees and are in urgent need of shelter material, emergency health kits, food, and medicine.

Experts say this is not the usual season for heavy flooding in Somalia, explaining that the abnormal weather patterns in the Congo basin have brought rain into the country.

Heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands have also caused Somalia's numerous seasonal rivers to overflow.

 


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