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Somalia: emergency aid for more than 300,000 flood victims in southern Somalia

22-11-2006 News Release 06/130

Nairobi / Geneva (ICRC) – Over the next two months, the ICRC will step up its emergency operations in southern Somalia to provide relief for more than 300,000 people affected by severe flooding in the region.

Heavy rains have laid waste to crops and farmland, disrupted the supply of food and isolated villages. In some areas, people are completely surrounded by water and stranded on dykes. Hundreds of thousands of people urgently need humanitarian assistance.    

" This has been a catastrophic year for the Somali people,” said Pascal Hundt, head of the ICRC's delegation in Somalia. “After experiencing the worst drought in a decade, they have now to suffer the effects of torrential rain. The struggle to survive such extreme conditions has pushed many families to the limit of their capabilities. And what they need most now is drinking water, food and shelter. "

Today, the ICRC began airlifting tarpaulins to 324,000 people in some of the worst affected areas in southern Somalia: the Juba, Gedo and Hiiraan regions as well as Middle and Lower Shabelle. In coming weeks, the ICRC plans to distribute seeds among the same people. Because many roads have become impassable, aid must often be delivered by air. It is only in Middle and Lower Shabelle that roads can be used for the purpose of aid delivery. Since last week, 45,000 people in Belet Weyne (Shabelle) are being provided with drinking water by the ICRC.

" We are extremely concerned about the situation, " Pascal Hundt said. " The floods have exacerbated what was already one of the most horrendous humanitarian crises in the world. Somalia has endured 15 years of armed conflict; now it lacks basic health services and an infrastructure. Tens of thousands of families have become displaced within their own country. "

The floods, which also affect Kenya and Ethiopia, began in late October. They have deepened the food insecurity caused by the drought earlier this year. In many areas, the soil had become so parched that it was unable to absorb rainwater. The few crops that survived the drought have now been destroyed by the floods.

The ICRC's relief   to flood victims is being delivered in partnership with the Somali Red Crescent Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The ICRC's other activities in Somalia – health and agricultural programmes, and assistance to internally displaced persons – continue as they have since 1977. The ICRC is ready to increase its aid   as the situation unfolds.

For further information, please contact:
  Pédram Yazdi, ICRC Somalia (in Nairobi), tel: +254 20 2723 963 or +254 722 51 81 42
  Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Nairobi, tel: +254 20 2723 963 or +254 722 51 27 28
  Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2271 or +41 79 217 3217