UNHCR helps victims of floods in Puntland town
BOSSASO, Somalia, November 15 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency has distributed aid to some 10,000 people affected by strong rains which swept across northern Somalia and the port of Bossaso earlier this month.
The shelters of displaced Somalis and Ethiopian refugees were left flooded last week after two-days of torrential rains pounded the normally dry and dusty Bossaso, which lies on the northern coast of Somalia's Puntland.
UNHCR provided emergency shelter material during the storm to more than 40 refugees after they sought sanctuary at the agency's compound in Bossaso, where drainage systems are practically non-existent.
The refugee agency also headed up an inter-agency response to the floods, helping to distribute plastic sheeting at the weekend and late last week to more than 1,700 displaced Somali families - some 10,000 people - in makeshift sites around Bossaso and at the fixed settlement of Bariga Bossaso.
"This is part of joint efforts with our partners to mitigate the risk of further displacement and avoid a major humanitarian crisis," said Dost Yousafzai, head of UNHCR operations in Puntland.
The residents of one affected site, 100 Bush, welcomed the assistance from UNHCR and its partners, including UNICEF, UN-Habitat, the Danish Refugee Council, the Somali Red Crescent and the Norwegian Refugee Council.
"Some people might wait till tomorrow to cover their hut, I will do it in one hour," said Mu'mina, a grandmother who is looking after 12 orphaned children. Pointing to a muddy mat on the floor of her shelter, she told visitors: "We had to put it up as a temporary ceiling to cover us from the rain."
The temporary shelters are often assembled out of cartons, pieces of garbage and other scrap materials.
Last week's floods again demonstrated how vulnerable refugees and displaced people are to the elements. The Somalis have an apt saying: "The rain does not recognize anyone as a friend; it drenches all equally."
By Fatma Bassiouni in Bossaso, Somalia