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UN agencies respond to river flooding in Southern Somalia

In a statement issued in Nairobi, Kenya, OCHA said that heavy seasonal rainfall in catchment areas of the Juba and Shabelle Rivers had led to rising water levels and limited flooding. On Wednesday, senior UN officials, including the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative and staff from the World Food Programme (WFP) flew to the affected area to conduct an aerial survey. Already, more than 750,000 people face a serious humanitarian crisis across Somalia, following the failure of the rains during the main Gu season from May to July in key food-producing areas. Drought conditions away from the riverine areas have left thousands of families without access to food, and malnutrition rates have risen dramatically in the past three months, OCHA said.”Let’s be clear. The current river flooding will not alleviate drought conditions. These different events are happening at the same time in different locations,” said Randolph Kent, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. “Flooding along the Juba and Shabelle Rivers will in fact increase hardship if riverine crops are destroyed.” River flooding in southern Somalia is a chronic seasonal problem. While many parts of southern Somalia still have not received rain, heavy rains in Ethiopia have caused the rivers downstream in Somalia to swell. From bases in the Lower Juba, Middle Shabelle and Bay regions, UNICEF is now providing emergency supplies to flood-affected families. UN agencies are assessing additional requirements for medical, food and seed assistance while calling upon Somali communities to ensure secure conditions for access to allow urgent humanitarian activities to be carried out.

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