Addis Ababa — The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is undertaking a rapid assessment and registration of survivors to determine the immediate food needs of an estimated 10,000 people left homeless by flash floods, the UN agency announced on Friday.
In a statement, WFP said it was working closely with the government of Ethiopia in the eastern town of Dire Dawa since Thursday to register men, women and children driven from their homes by the floods "so that food can be properly targeted and distributed to those who need it most within the next few days." "Once the assessment and registration is complete," WFP said, "survivors will receive a food ration consisting of cereals, vegetable oil, vitamin and mineral enriched blended food and salt to last for one month." WFP food is already on the ground in Dire Dawa for distribution, it said.
WFP added that its head office in Addis Ababa has established a task force to support and monitor the emergency operation in Dire Dawa.
"Everyone appreciates the need to move quickly and to help people, many of whom have nothing but the clothes on their backs, in whatever way we can. The extensive flooding, destruction and subsequent loss of life has brought about what can only be described as a humanitarian disaster," Ebenezer Ngowi, WFP Acting Country Director in Ethiopia said in the statement.
The death toll from the floods has hit 254, but officials in the area say the number is likely to rise as more than 300 people are believed to be still missing.
The floods swept away houses, vehicles and animals and destroyed markets and shops.
Meanwhile, heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands have caused the Shabelle River to burst its banks last week in Jowhar and Balad districts in the south of neighbouring Somalia, according to WFP.
There were no initial reports of casualties but large stretches of agricultural land were inundated and people were displaced, WFP said WFP said it was in close contact with its office in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
"We are monitoring the situation very closely and are ready with relief assistance as needed," Leo van der Velden, WFP's Acting Country Director for Somalia was quoted as saying.