SOMALIA: Beletweyne's flood-affected still in need

Published: June 25, 2010

Thousands of people displaced by floodingin the south-central Somali region of Beletweyne are yet to return home more than three weeks after the deluge, despite reduced water levels, say officials.
The floods damaged houses and caused latrines to collapse, with some areas remaining full of stagnant water.
“We are planning some flood recovery activities targeting mainly the urban poor with some cash relief and cash for work, and rehabilitation or construction of river embankments. This will start when more people come back to town and should target around 2,000 households,” Romain Lasjuilliarias, the Beletweyne-Hiraan region project manager with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), told IRIN.
An estimated 3,000 households were displaced from Beletweyne town to the outskirts. About 30 percent of them have returned since the end of May. Fighting in early June between pro-government forces and Hisbul Islam caused further displacements.
“In Beletweyne, response activities continue smoothly, benefiting 3,000 affected households, though gaps in food aid, seeds for planting and health services still remain,” noted a UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Somalia update for 11-18 June.
Further population returns are expected in the coming weeks said DRC’s Lasjuilliarias, adding that the next harvest may be affected as some farms and crops were damaged in the flooding.
Families isolated by the flooding should be provided with targeted food support, and a massive hygiene and sanitation campaign should be conducted, especially in the town, he added.
“[The] health situation is worrying due to lack of supplies,” he noted.
International Medical Corps (IMC) activities in health, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene in Beletweyne have been adversely affected following the 15 June takeover of Beletweyne by Al Shabaab forces from Hisbul Islam.
IMC was banned from working in areas under Al Shabaab control in the south- central regions of Somalia in 2008.
Concerns also remain over an increased malaria risk as floodwaters subside.
According to a report by Somali Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM), the flood risk along the Juba and Shebelle rivers is now minimal as levels have subsided upstream due to reduced rains.
Observed river levels in Beletweyne have continued to decrease; the river level was at 3.90m, which is 3.40m below the high risk flood level, SWALIM’s 22 June report said.

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