By Mohamed Sheikh Nor
BELEDWEYNE, SOMALIA – Hussein Abdi lost his younger brother and several close friends last week when floodwaters swept away their house in Somalia.
Abdi is overwhelmed with sadness. He said the biggest tragedy was losing his brother, who was a father of 10 children.
“The youngest child was just born on November 4,” he said, adding that “this was really the saddest moment in my entire life.”
The flooding, caused by heavy seasonal rain, has killed at least 21 people in central Somalia and has displaced over 270,000 people. Food is scarce in some areas, and relief shipments are having trouble reaching their destinations.
Many have sought refuge in camps like this one near the submerged town of Beledweyne.
Abdi Abdullahi, head of the Somali Red Crescent Society, said an estimated 53,000 families had been displaced by flooding. He said the Red Crescent Society had evacuated 117 people from the water and had found seven dead bodies.
Continued heavy rains were hampering delivery of aid to Somalis in need. Amina Ali, one of those displaced, said food was becoming very scarce.
Ali said many people died in the floods and others fled. “We were among those who survived that tragedy,” she said. “We only have water to drink but nothing to eat.”
Appeal for aid
The Somali government made an urgent appeal for aid and was scrambling, with international agencies, to bring in more food, said Abdullahi Godah, minister of higher education and the current deputy chairman of the Disasters Emergency Committee.
Godah said it was true that people were complaining about a lack of help, because only 3,000 families had so far received aid. The need is very high, he acknowledged.
Many Somalis hope to also see a longer-term solution, such as a flood defense system, to prevent this recurring tragedy and the losses to property and life.
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