BELEDWEYNE, Somalia – The River Shabelle has burst its banks in Beledweyne, causing thousands of people to flee their homes in central Somalia. Heavy rain has led to widespread flooding, resulting in damage to towns and villages. The UN’s humanitarian response agency (OCHA) has warned of an increase in diseases like cholera, suggesting that local infrastructures have been affected.
Abdihafid Mohamed Yusuf, a local resident, has shared his experience of the floods:
“We fled from the flash floods that submerged the city like so many others. People ran out of the city to safety. For four days, the floods poured massively into the city.”
As a result of the flooding, Nur Abdulle Hassan, a shopkeeper, has explained that trade has been badly affected:
“Our businesses have been badly affected by the massive flooding in Beledweyne and the movement of people. This has resulted in a reduction in the presence of our customers.”
The flooding is occurring as international figures report a record number of internally displaced people worldwide. Natural disasters accounted for 32.6 million such movements last year. Deputy Governor of the Hiran Region, Hassan Ibrahim Abdulle, has said that nearly the entire population of some regions has had to move out due to flash floods:
“Most of the inhabitants of the four districts of the town of Beledweyne are displaced because of the flash floods. 90 percent of the local towns have fled. 10 percent are still in the town because they have been stranded or they live in the highlands.”
The flooding is in stark contrast to months of drought, which has killed tens of thousands of people and wiped out crops and livestock.
It is feared that the rains caused by the flooding could force many families into destitution.