Floodings in Somalia Floodings in Somalia  (2020 Stanley Dullea)

Unicef Somalia: 400,000 displaced by floods

Unicef warns that the climate crisis has led to severe drought and sudden flooding in Somalia leaving hundreds of thousands of people in need of humanitarian assistance.

By Francesca Merlo

Devastating flooding after countless seasons of drought has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in Somalia. A statement by UNICEF’s representative in Somalia, Wafaa Saeed reads that "in September last year we were talking about the devastating impact that the drought in Somalia was having on children and families”. Somalia, in fact, had gone through five consecutive seasons of no rains and was facing its sixth”.

The bitter irony of rain

With the arrival of the rains, “in a bitter but perhaps unexpected irony”, the statement continues, misery was brought to many children and families. “Already over 400,000 people have been displaced by the floods in Somalia this year. Humanitarian partners now predict that if the heavy rains continue in Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands throughout the current season, flash floods could affect up to 1.6 million people”.

Continuing her statement, Wafaa Saeed goes on to recall a trip she made to a town called Beletweyne in the Hiran region, just one week ago, where “floods have displaced almost 90 percent of the residents”.

Consequences of flooding

“Families displaced by the floods have limited access to basic necessities such as food, drinking water and shelter”, she continued. Although some of the inhabitants of the village are used to floods, they noted that they have never lived them of such magnitude and severity. “Their houses and latrines have been damaged, schools and health facilities have been closed, they have lost their daily income, and some are going back to skipping meals or borrowing from shops”, she warns.

About 12 villages are completely isolated and can only be reached by boat. The local government and agencies, including UNICEF, are already providing assistance, but the level of need is much higher.

The famine declaration, which had been predicted last year and would have been a confirmation of our worst fears for the children, was fortunately averted.

Bringing attention back to Somalia

Bringing her statement to a close, Wafaa Saeed warns that "with so much suffering dominating the headlines, the world's attention has been diverted, and this will be to the detriment of children in countries like Somalia".

As we approach June, the humanitarian response plan for Somalia is only 26 per cent funded. The water, sanitation and hygiene sector of the plan is about 11 per cent funded, putting the provision of safe water and sanitation at risk at a time of high risk of outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and malaria.

Finally, she adds, "now is the time for the international community to continue its support, to increase it and not to switch off". Somalia and other countries in the region are one step away from another human catastrophe, which once again will be measured against the lives and futures of children.

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31 May 2023, 11:58