Flooding induced by the annual rains has left “a trail of destruction” across Somalia, according to a UN spokesman, citing submerged homes and farmland as well as the closure of health services.
“According to early estimates by our partners, more than 460,000 people have been impacted, including nearly 219,000 men, women, and children who have been displaced due to this (flooding),” Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
The flooding has killed at least five people, including three children, according to Mohamed Moalim of the Somalia National Disaster Management Agency.
The destruction is most severe in the Hiiraan region of Hirshabelle, a central Somali state. Beledweyne, the regional city with the highest population density, has seen thousands of families evacuated. The Shabelle River, which runs through town, burst its banks due to severe rain.
“We estimate that up to 1.6 million people could be impacted, with more than 600,000 displaced,” Dujarric said if the rains continue in Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands.
According to residents, rising water levels in Beledweyne prompted the shutdown of many essential facilities, including government offices and the main hospital. Some others claimed that the flooding was the worst they had ever seen.
“It was very difficult for me to walk this morning because of the amount of water,” said Abdifitah Ahmed, a Beledweyne resident. “As you can see, this situation is getting worse as the amount of water increases.”
Another resident, Hussein Yusuf, stated that the property damage is extensive. “This flood is larger than any flooding in recent memory that has ever occurred in this region,” he said.
The Horn of Africa country, one of the poorest in the world, is facing a number of difficulties. Other sections of Somalia are suffering from drought, and there is an ongoing insurgency in Mogadishu by Islamic extremist forces opposed to the federal authority.