US says flash floods displaced hundreds of thousands in central Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Somalia – At least 72,000 people have been displaced by flooding in Belet Weyne town and other surrounding villages in central Somalia as Shabelle River levels continue to rise, the UN humanitarian agency said on Tuesday.

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The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it has teamed up with local authorities to scale up humanitarian response noting that lack of shelter and emergency latrines is a major concern.

“If the river continues to rise and surpass the highrisk level, motorized boats will be required to reach people in isolated locations,” OCHA warned in its latest update on flooding in Somalia.

“There are currently four boats in the area, but more will be required. The local authorities have issued appeal for urgent humanitarian assistance with the situation expected to deteriorate,” it said.

Food security experts have warned that the floods, which have made some roads impassable and cut thousands off from aid, could reverse many of the humanitarian gains made in central and southern Somalia in the recent past.

The UN agency said all villages in the north of Belet Weyne town have been affected and humanitarian partners are yet to establish the number of people displaced in these areas.

It said the situation is further compounded by flooding from an outburst of minor tributaries in Belet Weyne, which has caused damage to farmland in villages such as Hawo Taako.

“Riverine communities have been asked to vacate their homes to higher ground with immediate effect. The rains will continue in the next seven days and river levels will continue to rise, further worsening the flood situation,” it said.

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