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Hit by floods and drought, quarter of Somali people at risk of 'crisis-level' hunger, WFP says

Wednesday November 15, 2023

People collect flood water following heavy rains that have led the Juba river to overflow and flood large swathes of land in Dolow, Gedo region, Jubaland State of Somalia, November 13, 2023. REUTERS/Feisal Omar/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

A quarter of Somalia's population is forecast to face "crisis-level hunger or worse" this year due to drought and floods caused by climate change, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.

Floods that have uprooted hundreds of thousands of people in Somalia and neighbouring countries in East Africa following a historic drought earlier this year have been described by the United Nations as a once-in-a-century event.

"Livelihoods and lives are at risk, 4.3 million people – a quarter of the population – are forecast to face crisis-level hunger or worse by the end of this year," said Petroc Wilton, WFP spokesperson for Somalia.

"This bombardment of climate shocks, from drought to floods, will prolong the hunger crisis in Somalia. The drought killed millions of livestock and ruined countless hectares of pastures and farmlands. Now, these devastating floods are crippling Somalia's ability to recover."

In Somalia's Dolow district, homes are abandoned and roads have turned into rivers.

Farxhan Ali Abdulle, a shop owner in the town of Dolow on the border with Ethiopia, said no supplies were coming in.

"There is a serious shortage of goods, fuel food, and all other things in the city," he said. "We really will be feeling the impact."

The floods, which followed heavy rains that started in early October, have already killed at least 32 people and forced more than 456,800 from their homes in Somalia, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

In Dolow, some say moving around the worst-hit areas of towns and villages has become dangerous because of the animals that could be lurking beneath the surface.

"We cannot go to some of the places in the town because of the high level of water and we are afraid of crocodiles and other animals in the flood," said Dolow resident Timaade Hussein Abdi.

Some families from Dolow have been moved to camps for internally displaced people.

"Sustained support from the international community will be essential," Wilton added.

Speaking to Reuters in Luuq town, where the Jubba River burst its banks, aid group World Vision said it had managed to rescue some villagers trapped due to flooding.

"We have so far rescued over 400 people from the locations that are completely submerged by the water as a result of the heavy rains that were witnessed over the last week," Muhidin Abdullahi, its operations manager in Somalia said.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson


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