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After floods displace thousands in Somalia: Aid agencies warn for disease epidemics

After floods displace thousands in Somalia: Aid agencies warn for disease epidemics

Due to drought and conflict in the past year tens thousands of people in Somalia were forced to leave their homes as their shelters have been destroyed by flooding. On Friday aid agencies were sparking fears over the spread of deadly diseases.

After above-average rainfall Saw Rivers burst their banks this month around more that than 427,000 people were affected across the country, they said. More rain is forecast for the next coming week.

“And worst is likely yet to come. With limited access to proper toilets and clean water, it’s a ticking time bomb for disease outbreaks like cholera and malaria,” said Victor Moses, country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

Since last year, Drought and conflict caused more than 1.3 million people in Somalia to run away from their homes said the NRC.

Since 1991 the country has been in conflict. Its weak, Western-backed government is struggling to assert control over poor, rural areas under the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, challenging the delivery of aid to the neediest.

54,000 people have been affected by flooding near the capital Mogadishu the NRC said in a settlement.

The rains across Somalia have forced more than 175,000 people to leave their homes or shelters said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Main roads to Mogadishu have become inaccessible, due to large areas of crops damaged.

“We hoped to give people some more food security in the coming months when the crop matured, but that is at stake now when in some areas they have been completely destroyed,” NRC’s Moses told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

More than 174,000 people were affected in Baidoa, 250 kilometres (155 miles) northwest of the capital.

After the Shabelle River rose four metres and burst its banks around 120,000 people were evacuated in Belet Weyne town, one of the worst affected areas, near Ethiopia’s border.

“We’re having trouble getting aid into some of these areas. The runway there is not serviceable for fixed-wing aircraft, and we don’t have humanitarian helicopters,” Justin Brady, head of office for OCHA in Somalia, said by phone.

The United Nations said while the annual rains are expected to ease drought conditions caused by four consecutive poor rainy seasons, the flooding is likely to worsen a fragile humanitarian situation.

Before the floods hit, an estimated 5.4 million people needed emergency aid, including food, water and shelter. Funding for humanitarian assistance was already inadequate and would now be further stretched, the United Nations said.