The heavy rains and flooding in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are expected to continue for several more weeks. Humanitarian officials are hard-pressed to get emergency supplies to those in need.
In Somalia, for example, UN officials describe the situation as one of the worst floods in recent history and warn up to one million people could eventually be affected.
Matthew Olins is the deputy UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia. From Nairobi, he told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua, “The flooding is becoming more widespread and it is becoming more serious. And we’re not optimistic looking at the next few weeks of projected rainfall and rising river levels.”
Asked about the worst affected areas, Olins says, “Currently, we have accurate information about the situation in northern Hiran Province, focused around the town of Beletweyne. But we would anticipate perhaps the worst affected areas to be in Middle Shabelle around the town of Johar. Johar is downstream from Beletweyne and normally a flood surge takes about five days to go from Beletweyne to Johar. We had the surge in Beletweyne around Friday and Saturday, so we would be expecting that surge to hit anytime now in Johar.”
Olins says other areas expected to be hard time during the short rains season are Middle and Lower Juba. “So we are also expecting very bad conditions in Bwale, Middle Juba and currently we are seeing a deteriorating situation in Jalebe and Jamaame, also in Middle Juba.
Emergency flights into Somalia have faced two obstacles. The Kenyan government had suspended all flights into Somalia on November 11th. However, Olins says Kenya will now permit humanitarian flights with 24 hours notice. Also, much of the flooded areas are under the control of the Islamic Courts Union. But the UN official says the local ICU officials have been very cooperative in allowing humanitarian aid to get in.