10 October 2012, Sweetcrude/African Press Organization (APO), GENEVA, Switzerland — Around 60,000 people affected by conflict and flooding in Beletweyn-Hiiraan, central Somalia, are receiving emergency food rations. They include 39,000 to whom the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somali Red Crescent distributed essential shelter and survival items during the first week of October after they had to leave their homes because of flooding.
“The people of Beletweyn suffered huge losses when late September’s torrential rain raised the level of the Shabelle River and flooded the entire town,” said Mohamed Sheikh Ali, who coordinates the ICRC’s economic security programmes in Somalia. “Camps of internally displaced people, businesses and homes have all suffered extensive damage.”
A joint ICRC/Somali Red Crescent team of 40 volunteers and staff immediately provided tarpaulins to make improvised shelters, along with plastic mats, jerrycans, cooking utensils and clothes, and set up daily deliveries of clean water. The two organizations had already been assisting IDPs and helping people in the area to earn a living.
“The conflict was causing considerable suffering in Beletweyn, and now rain and flash floods have caused truly alarming levels of devastation,” said Patrick Vial, head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia. “Having finished distributing these shelter and household items, we’re now supplying food to 39,000 people affected by the floods and to 21,000 who had previously been displaced by the conflict, making a total of 60,000. So we’re supplying them with a one-month ration of beans, rice, corn soya blend and oil, and we’re continuing to keep a close watch on the humanitarian situation.”
In addition to delivering emergency aid, the ICRC is repairing seven dykes along the River Shabelle in an effort to reduce flooding in the future.
The ICRC has been working in Somalia since 1977. In close partnership with the Somali Red Crescent Society, the organization provides emergency and long-term support with the aim of making communities more self-reliant.