Somaliland Returnees Lose Homes to Floods
The floods damaged infrastructure and killed thousands of livestock in several towns including Berbera, Burao and Hargeysa - the Somaliland capital.
In Burao, 340 km east of Hargeysa, a school, a hospital and an airstrip were damaged, Somaliland transport minister Osman Kassim told IRIN.
The airstrip, he added, had been temporarily closed because the runway had been washed away by the water. Other sources said the floods also destroyed a tannery and more than 200 homes in the town.
"At least 300 huts belonging to Somali returnees were swept away by the floodwaters, rendering them homeless," Kinsi Ahmed, a social worker in Burao told IRIN. "The returnees had settled in Kasoor Camp in the outskirts of Burao town. [Since the floods] some sought refuge with relatives and friends, others fled to unknown places."
Ahmed Dahir, a local resident of Burao, said the rains started on Monday night and continued until Tuesday afternoon. The floods, he added, had swept away telephone and electricity poles and rendered the main road leading from Burao to Lasanod, impassable.
Sources in nearby Berbera told IRIN the floods had swept away more than 100 houses, most of which were built more than 50 years ago, and flooded water wells outside the town.
Somaliland authorities, led by President Dahir Rayale Kahin, held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss ways to assist those who had been affected by the floods.
The president had toured the hardest-hit areas earlier and appointed a committee to assess the overall damage. He also appealed to donors for emergency help.
On Sunday, five people died and more than 1,000 others were displaced when torrential rains battered Hargeysa. The town's governor, Abdillahi Irro, told IRIN on Monday that the displaced included elderly women and children.
Some 270 families had been relocated to a camp belonging to the Somaliland police force, where they were receiving food aid and non-food items from relief agencies and the government. Others had sought refuge with relatives and friends, he said.
For decades, torrential rain and floods have devastated Somaliland, located to the northwest of Somalia, which already suffers from the ravages of a civil war and recurring drought.
Sunday night's deluge caused the seasonal Hargeysa River to burst its banks, triggering floods that destroyed tens of houses, several graves, two public resorts and the premises of several NGOs.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Norwegian Refugee Council, thousands of returnees, internally displaced persons and refugees constitute about a fifth of the population of Somaliland’s major towns.
Many of the returnees were forced out of their homes by war
before and after the overthrow of Siyad Barre in 1991 and went to live as refugees
in neighbouring nations such as Ethiopia.