UN: Floods in central Somalia hit nearly one million people

Residents walk through flooded streets in Beledweyne, north of Mogadishu on May 26, 2016. Hundreds of families have been forced out of their homes following flash floods in Beledweyne after torrential rains pounded the area in the last few days.The heavy rains led to the bursting of River Shabelle which caused massive floods in residential areas along the river. / AFP / MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB (Photo credit should read MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents walk through flooded streets in Beledweyne, north of Mogadishu on May 26, 2016.(Photo credit should read MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB/AFP via Getty Images)

Central Somalia is experiencing flooding affecting one million people and displacing about 400,000 people, the United Nations announced on Monday, warning people of possible outbreaks because of crowding where the displaced are seeking temporary shelter.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at least 24 people have died in the flash floods that hit Beledweyne and Jowhar, two agricultural centers in Somalia’s central area.

Belet Weyne in Hiraan region is the most affected after river Shabelle burst its banks overwhelming 85% off the town and 25 villages by the river, the U.N said.

There is high risk of disease outbreaks in the city of Beledwenye as heavy rains continue to rage Somalia and the highlands of neighboring Ethiopia.

Residents of the city of more than 400,000 said they are wading through flooded streets to escape waters that are still rising from Shabelle River.

They are worried about further flooding in the city, the epicenter of last year’s devastating flood, the worst in the recent history.

“The flooding here has affected the entire city. People are very worried about their safety,” said Hassan Elmi, a resident of Beledweyne. “The government forces are helping some people, but those who are too weak or old are need more help because they cannot wade through these flooded streets because the water is moving too fast.”

According to the U.N, the floods also threaten to cut off the main road connecting Beledweyne to the airport which could interrupt deliveries of emergency humanitarian supplies to the town.

Nearly 40% of the people in Jowhar, a smaller center of about 20,000 residents, have been displaced from their homes, according to the Somali government’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management in Hirshabelle state.