MOGADISHU, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has appealed to the international community to support efforts to help 500,000 people affected by the floods that has displaced close to 175,000 from their homes.
Mohamed who visited Somalia's central region of HirShabelle to assess the impact of flooding on Monday said his government was taking action to address the humanitarian crisis caused by the floods.
"We have formed a national disaster committee to respond to the needs of our fellow citizens who have been affected," he said in a statement issued on Tuesday evening.
Mohamed who led a high-level delegation, which included representatives from the UN and the AU Mission in Somalia to the city of BeletWeyne, said his government stands by residents affected by the floods morally and materially to deliver all the help that it can.
The humanitarian crisis was caused by the Shabelle River, which begins in the Ethiopian highlands and flows through BeletWeyne and the HirShabelle state capital of Jowhar, burst its banks following the onset of heavy rains which began last month.
According to the government, other states affected by the heavy rains include Jubbaland and South West state.
The heavy rains and flash floods come only months after a devastating drought left over 6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance last year.
Yngvil Foss, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) deputy country director for Somalia rainfall in recent weeks, has been heavier than anticipated.
"Initially, all humanitarian actors started responding with the means and assets they had available. In the past week we have been able to raise additional money to target assistance for food, water, sanitation and non-food items to be able to respond," Foss said.
The UN has warned that the heavy rains were worsening conditions in overcrowded Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) settlements and displacing more people along riverine areas due to flooding. The settlements have limited access to hygiene facilities, thus heightening the risk of communicable diseases.
According to the OCHA report, some 246,000 people are at risk of flash floods in Baidoa, Southwest region, while in Jubbaland approximately 28,200 people have been displaced by floods, which swept away home, shelters, farms and livestock.
In Belet Weyne, more than 200,000 people are at risk of being affected by floods after River Shabelle burst its banks, forcing many to flee the town to higher grounds.
Meanwhile, a team comprising AU troops and Somali national security forces has evacuated more than 10,000 people marooned by the raging floods in Belet Weyne, HirShabelle state.
"We are taking part in the evacuation of Somali people so as to rescue them from flooded areas and take them to a place near Eel Jaale far from floods," said Col Abdourahman Rayale Hareed, the Commander of Djibouti's Hiil 5 Battalion who led the rescue mission.