2 November 2012

Somalia: Floods Displace Thousands in Somaliland

Hargeisa — Heavy rains have displaced thousands of people in the mid-eastern regions of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, says a senior official.

"More than 3,000 to 4,000 families in nine villages of Togdheer Region displaced by heavy rains last Friday [26 October ] need immediate assistance," Abdo Aayir Osman, the governor of Togdheer Region, told IRIN by telephone from the regional capital Burao. He added that at least three people had died after their homes flooded.

The floodwaters have also damaged foodstuffs in stores in Qori-Lugud District and areas such as Daba-Qabad, Tallo Buuro, Bali-Alanle and Gubato. Some 7,000 to 9,000 heads of livestock drowned, Osman said.

The chairman of Somaliland's Environment Research and Disaster Preparedness and Management Authority, Mohamed Moussa Awale, however, estimated a lower number of displaced families: about 600 families in the regions of Sahil and Togdheer.

In Sahil Region's capital Berbera, several old buildings collapsed, and some traditional Somali huts were also destroyed, Awale said, noting that Somaliland's Red Crescent Society had distributed tents to the affected people there.

Qori-Lugud mayor Said Mohamoud Sheikh Abdi told IRIN that most of the houses in the district were destroyed after a water storage dam there was breached, flooding settlements from 26 to 27 October. Floodwaters reached about two feet above the ground level.

About 2,800 people there are now in need of shelter, food and non-food items, according to the district's officials.

The eastern and mid-western regions of Somaliland have received erratic rains in past couple of years. "It is the first time such rains [have been] received in the last 12 years," said Mayor Abdi.

Nimo Mohamoud Mohame, a mother of nine, was among those whose families have been forced out by the flooding. "After several hours of rain, our house [a traditional Somali hut] was filled with water, and we sought refuge near the near hills," she said. "Now we are at a hill called Bali-Hassan [5km north of Qori-Lugud], and we need food, shelter and household items because all of our households were [destroyed] by the floods."

Officials are also concerned about possible outbreaks of waterborne disease. "[A] number of toilets collapsed, and there is fear of the outbreak of cholera if we do not act now. The displaced need water chlorination, water pumps, plastic sheets, utensils, blankets and foodstuff," Omar Jama, chairman of the local NGO Taakul Somaliland Community, told IRIN.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. ]

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