Somalia: Red Crescent fears disease outbreaks in flood aftermath

Mogadishu/Beledweyne, Somalia — As flood rescue and recovery efforts continue in Somalia, the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) fears the floods could trigger deadly outbreaks of malaria, diarrhea, and other infectious diseases.

“These floods have already cost lives and our concern is that another fatal disaster is on its way,” said Abdi Abdullahi who leads SRCS operations in Beledweyne. “Thousands are living in the open and outbreaks of disease can easily take hold. The main hospital in the area is flooded and many are cut-off from our clinic.”

More than 50 SRCS volunteers are in Beledweyne town responding to the immediate aftermath of the floods. Last week, SRCS recovered seven bodies from the floodwaters and evacuated 137 people by boat. A mobile clinic has also been set up to provide care to the people moving to higher ground in Eljale, 10km from Beledweyne town.

“We are on high alert, but much more will be needed, especially clean water and sanitation, to prevent people from falling ill. We are racing to scale-up our response, but the floods have made it impossible to bring relief and medical supplies in by air to Beledweyne and many areas are hard-to-reach,” said Yusuf Hassan Mohamed, president of the SRCS.

The SRCS is working closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross to deliver tarpaulins, mosquito nets, cooking utensils as well as water treatment tablets to approximately 4,000 families left homeless by the floods. Sandbags have been distributed to parts of the country where flooding is expected.

Heavy rains in Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands sparked widescale flooding in October. Beledweyne town, which sits on the banks of the Shabelle River, was among the hardest-hit areas, with entire neighborhoods submerged in water and crops destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been displaced from their homes as more rain is expected in the coming weeks.

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