A Somali man walks out of his flooded makeshift shelter after heavy rain in Mogadishu, Somalia October 21, 2019.
A Somali man walks out of his flooded makeshift shelter after heavy rain in Mogadishu, Somalia October 21, 2019.

GENEVA - Emergency assistance is starting to pour into Somalia, where hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes by severe flooding. 

More than 300,000 people have been made homeless by some of the worst flooding experienced by Somalia in years.  Parts of the country, especially in the central Somali district of Belet Weyne, have been devastated.  

A Somali boy stands on a junk vehicle after heavy rain flooded their neighbourhood in Mogadishu, Somalia October 21, 2019.

Aid agencies are responding with increasing speed.  For example, the World Food Program has distributed ready-to-eat food and high energy biscuits to thousands of the displaced.  

The U.N. Migration Agency has delivered more than 3,200 non-food supply kits containing blankets, mattresses and kitchen sets.


Somalia Floods May Affect Up to One Million People
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…

The U.N. refugee agency this week delivered humanitarian supplies in the first of a series of flights organized to help more than 20,000 people cut off by the flooding.  

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says up to 10 flights, three a day, are scheduled to airlift 60 metric tons of supplies.

“The air operation largely depends on landing strips being available as floodwaters have engulfed a vast area," Mahecic said. "Reports of our partners indicate that villages on the outskirts of Belet Weyne, which is about 340 kilometers north of the capital Mogadishu have been submerged and hundreds of families are trapped in their homes.” 

President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo wades through flood waters in Beledweyn, Somalia November 2, 2019 in this still image obtained from social media video on November 4, 2019.

In the meantime, the World Health Organization warns many flood-hit districts have become cholera hotspots with few health care facilities available to treat the sick.  It says there also has been an upsurge of malaria and diarrhea.  

WHO spokesman Tarek Jasarevic tell VOA the floods give rise to other health issues.

“One of them is obviously injuries.  People get injured.  There is a risk of drowning," said Jasarevic. "There is a risk of people being cut, just walking through the water, stepping on nails or on glass.  And, then there is also the issue of access to health services because the health facilities become difficult to reach.” 

U.N. officials warn disasters such as the Somali floods highlight the increasing vulnerabilities of people in this country and others to the effects of global warming and climate change.  They note this latest calamity was preceded by a severe drought in July.