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Horn of Africa: 100+ dead and 700,000 displaced by El Nino rains as region prepares for further extreme weather

Devastating flash floods have resulted in the deaths of at least 111 people, including 16 children, in the Horn of Africa in recent weeks. Over 770,000 people have been displaced and the rains show no signs of slowing down, according to Save the Children.

Unremitting rainfall in Kenya’s northern counties and Nairobi has caused widespread flooding, displacing an estimated 36,000 people and leading to the deaths of 46 individuals since the beginning of the rainy season less than a month ago. Two boys drowned in separate incidents in Nairobi, where city rivers have flooded informal settlements.

In a similar vein, heavy rainfall in Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands has left the central Somalia town of Beledweyne completely submerged. This forced an estimated 250,000 people, or 90% of the population, out of their homes. Across Somalia, 32 people, including eight children, have died in the floods, with over 456,000 displaced country-wide. Heavy rains have particularly impacted the Bay region in South West State, where 454,320 people are affected by the floods, accounting for 37% of the more than 1.24 million people affected overall.

Meanwhile, in the Gambella, Afar, and Somali regions of Ethiopia, Save the Children teams have reported continuous and relentless heavy downpours, resulting in flooding, landslides, and displacement. At least 33 individuals, including eight children, have died in the floods in Ethiopia as people have drowned while trying to flee the devastation.

These floods are the latest in a series of extreme weather events in the Horn of Africa, where children and communities have been heavily impacted by the global climate crisis.

The El Nino weather phenomenon, which brought the unusually heavy rains, thunderstorms, and extreme floods, comes after the worst drought in 40 years. This has decimated livestock and crops, pushing the region to the brink of famine.

Save the Children is urging urgent national and international intervention to respond to the massive displacement in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Many of the displaced families, including thousands of children, need emergency supplies such as food, shelter, clean water, and toilets.

Mohamud Mohamed Hassan, Save the Children’s Country Director for Somalia, emphasized the need for urgent action to help communities respond and better protect children’s lives and reduce the long-term impact. Yvonne Arunga, Save the Children’s Country Director for Kenya, also stressed the vulnerability of children in crises and called for increased support for families and children.

Similarly, Xavier Joubert, Save the Children’s Country Director for Ethiopia, highlighted the risks that flooding and displacement pose to families and children and emphasized the necessity of making funds available to anticipate humanitarian crises and ensure the continuity of essential services.

Save the Children is utilizing prepositioned items and humanitarian relief materials in Ethiopia and providing cash assistance and distributing household items to displaced people in Kenya. In Somalia, the aid agency is running mobile health and nutrition services in evacuation sites, water tracking, hygiene promotion, distribution of mosquito nets, and acute watery diarrhea kits.

Save the Children has worked in the Horn of Africa for over 70 years and is a national and international leader in humanitarian and development programming in health, nutrition, water hygiene and sanitation, education, child protection, and child rights governance. In 2022, Save the Children reached 14.7 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, including more than 9.6 million children.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Save the Children.

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