Somalia: Puntland receives $1M from FGS after floods in Qardho
MOGADISHU, Somalia - In a rare show of philanthropy, the federal government of Somalia disbursed $1 million towards mitigation of Qardho flash floods tragedy, few hours after President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo expressed sympathy following the Monday night catastrophe.
At least six people died after being swept away and seven more are yet to be accounted for. Several houses submerged in water, forcing thousands to vacate their homes to high-level grounds, officials said.
The aid from the federal government among others is set to help the affected families get proper shelter, food, and medication, besides enabling authorities in Puntland to intensify search and rescue missions, which entered the third day on Thursday.
During a press conference in Garowe on Thursday, former Puntland presidents Abdirahman Farole and Abdiweli Gaas along Senator Jurile have appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the floods and thanked FGS for the $1M donation.
Qardho is the regional capital for Karkar, which is prone to floods during the rainy season. This is the first time the federal government is directly helping Puntland after a tragedy, a sign of possible dialogue between Farmajo and Said Deni, the firebrand regional leader.
On Tuesday, Farmajo termed the tragedy "a big blow" to the economy of Somalia, adding that "we shall do all we can to help our people". His statement came before Deni toured the affected region, also promising a "swift" response to the predicament.
But even before the government support, well-wishers from Garowe and Bosaaso dispatched a consignment mainly of food and medical aid, which was sent on Wednesday to Qardho to assist those affected by the flash floods.
This comes amid concerns that children could be the most affected with the catastrophe, a move that has precipitated online mobilization by the agencies working on children's affairs. Among those who perished were three children, officials said.
Rains are expected to intensify across Somalia for the next month, further raising doubts about the country's preparedness to mitigate possible flash floods across other vulnerable towns. The floods also destroyed assets, food stores, markets, telecommunications, and other public services.
The Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency [HADMA] in Puntland confirms that at least 11,000 households [about 66,000 people] have been affected and need urgent humanitarian assistance. Some of the households are seeking shelter in nearby schools as rescue operations continue, reports indicate.
Mohamed Hassan Mohamud, Save the Children Country Director says children would be on the receiving end due to disaster unpreparedness in Somalia, a country that has been rocked in inter-clan conflicts and Al-Shabaab menace for decades now.
“Children are already tormented by the impact of COVID19. They see people around them getting really sick and other dying from the virus, schools closed abruptly with no hope of going back anytime soon," he noted.
As it continues to rain in the Ethiopian highlands which is the source of Juba and Shabelle rivers, authorities in Hiran Region fear that the floods will affect at least 50,000 households and cause massive displacements particularly in Beledweyne town and surrounding areas in coming few weeks.
The flash floods have also caused havoc in Doolow town leading to the destruction of homes and business premises. In the Gedo region the levels of Juba river have surpassed high-risk flood levels, impacting farmlands, south of the river, authorities added.
At the same time, floods have destroyed homes and farmlands in and around Burao town in Somaliland causing massive humanitarian needs for affected communities. This, analysts warn, could have a devastating impact on food security.
The aid from the federal government comes barely a month after President Deni called for negotiations to unlock the impasse between the federal government and member states, which has for long periods strained their working relationship.