Relief agencies are taking advantage of several days without heavy rains to increase their aid to flooded areas of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Peter Smeardon is a spokesperson for the World Food Program. From Nairobi, he gives VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua an update on the UN agency’s humanitarian operation.
“On Saturday, we flew two MI-8 helicopters from Nairobi to Wajid in southern Somalia. This is the third prong of WFP’s special operation the deliver humanitarian assistance to people affected by the floods in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia by air because it’s so difficult to get to people by land. So, those helicopters have arrived in Wajid and hopefully we’ll start operating very soon, taking emergency supplies to people who are cut off by the flooding along the Shabelle and Juba Rivers. In addition, on Saturday as well, two other MI-8 helicopters made their first mission to villages cut off by the flooding in eastern and northeastern Kenya and delivered humanitarian assistance. And that operation is continuing,” he says.
Besides the airlifts, some food aid is getting into some areas by truck, despite what Smeardon calls “appalling road conditions in south and central Somalia.” He says, WFP and our partners have managed to distribute 3,700 tons of food to more than 200,000 people in Somalia since the First of November, since the floods got really serious, using trucks and small boats. But it simply isn’t going to be sufficient.”
Much of the food aid consists of high-energy biscuits, which are easy to carry and store.
More cases of water borne diseases are also showing up and dealing with diseases may be a bigger problem than food right now, according to Smeardon.