Somalia floods kill 10, displace more than 113,000 a year after drought

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU (Reuters) -Floods caused by heavy rains across parts of Somalia have displaced more than 113,000 people and “temporarily affected” hundreds of thousands, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said on Monday.

About 10 people have died in the aftermath of the rains, and the government has declared a statement of emergency, Somali Disaster Management Agency said on its account on social media platform X.

The rain comes a year after the Horn of Africa nation suffered its worst drought in four decades, which combined with violence and a rise in food prices caused by the war in Ukraine killed as many as 43,000 people, according to the UN.

The current October-December rainfall season has seen intense downpours in Puntland, Galmudug, South West, Hirshabelle states and in areas along the Juba river in Jubbaland State, OCHA said, driven by El Nino.

El Nino is a natural climate phenomenon in which surface waters of the central and eastern Pacific become unusually warm and cause changes in weather patterns around the world.

“Over 706,100 people have been temporarily affected, with over 113,690 people temporarily displaced from their homes across the country,” the office said in its latest update.

Southwest and Jubbaland states were the worst hit, with a total of about 536,608 people affected, OCHA said.

Amina Mohamed Bobshe, a resident of Lower Shabelle region, said they endured five days of rain and the resulting floods forced her to flee to a camp for internally displaced people outside the capital Mogadishu.

“We are suffering. The little things we had were washed away by rain. This morning, I missed a cup of tea for the children. Please help us urgently,” Bobshe told Reuters.

In the Luuq area of southwest Gedo region, some 2,400 people were trapped by floods, OCHA said, adding that steps were being taken to rescue them.

Another 14,000 families had been cut off from the main town in Baardhere, OCHA said.

Earlier this year, floods pushed a quarter of a million people from their homes after the Shabelle river in central Somalia broke its banks and submerged the town of Beledweyne.

Aid agencies and scientists have warned climate change is among the key factors accelerating humanitarian emergencies, while those impacted are some of the least responsible for CO2 emissions.

(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu, Additional reporting by Hereward Holland in Nairobi; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Nick Macfie and Sharon Singleton)