Press Release


NEW YORK, 26 April (OCHA) -- In East Africa, heavy rains have caused severe flooding in Ethiopia and Somalia, and floods have not only led to deaths and displacement, but also to extensive damage to property and farmland, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today. 

Hundreds of already vulnerable households have been affected.  In Ethiopia, continuous heavy rainfall over a forty-eight hour period has caused flooding of the Wabe Shabelle river.  The floods washed away about 35 villages in the Somali region of Ethiopia on 23 April 2005.  Over 40 people died in the disaster and many others remain missing.  Roads leading to the area were under water and impassable. Many people lost both their houses and their crops in the flood, increasing food insecurity and economic hardship in a region suffering from prolonged drought conditions.  Areas of the Somali region of Ethiopia remain at risk, due to the rising river level.

The Government of Ethiopia is responding.  The current needs include food, shelter, blankets and utensils and medical care, due to the potential increase of cases of malaria and waterborne diseases.

In Somalia, heavy rains and floods hit Hargeisa, the main city in Somaliland, on the evening of 24 April 2005.  The floods washed away one of the two bridges in the south-western part of the city and damaged huts and houses on the banks of the river, as well as electric power lines.  The destruction of the bridge limits the accessibility and mobility of the population around the city, affecting daily activities, such as commuting to work, school and accessing hospitals and markets.  The floods have affected at least 170 households.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have mobilized teams.  UNICEF distributed non-food items (blankets, plastic sheets and jerry cans) while the WFP distributed cereals, pulses and oil to affected families. 

While agencies have taken immediate action to meet the current emergency needs, more information is required to verify further needs.

For further information, please, call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA New York, tel.:  917 367 5126, mobile:  917 892 1679; Elizabeth Byrs, OCHA Geneva, tel.:  41 22 917 2653, mobile:  41(0) 79 473 4570.

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For information media. Not an official record.