The delegation of the European Union (EU) to Somalia has completed operation of two back-to-back special flights for the WHO country office to airlift life-saving medicine and other emergency hospital supplies for the flood-affected areas of Belet Weyne, Jowhar, Kismayo and Baidoa. These emergency drugs and medical supplies donated by WHO will be used for augmenting emergency health care for the people affected by the recent flood in the country resulting from heavy rainfalls during the past weeks. The European Union has operated these two special flights for WHO from Mogadishu to the flood affected areas on both 20 and 21 May 2020.
This airlift is in response to recent floods which have displaced hundreds of thousands of residents in these regions. The flights operated by the Delegation of the European Union delivered 12,679 KGS of supplies, namely oral rehydration solution, cholera saline and other emergency drugs for patient care. As a result of this successful operation, approximately 2,700 persons will benefit over the next three months from these life-saving medical supplies.
Heavy rains are predicted for the remainder of May and June. These supplies will not only play a critical role in supporting emergency health care for cholera and other water-borne diseases for the vulnerable populations of the affected areas aiming at preventing loss of lives, these will also support basic health care services in the areas long after the flood water recedes.
“The EU welcomes the opportunity to join forces and resources with WHO in Somalia” said EU Ambassador to Somalia Nicolas Berlanga. “Somalia faces a confluence of health challenges including the urgent task of responding to the Covid-19 outbreak. The recent floods that have impacted so much of the country will only complicate that effort. These are complex challenges that require enhanced coordination and rapid response,” the Ambassador added.
Commenting on the this collaboration, Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative said, “ As we continue to fight on all fronts against COVID-19 and now on reducing the health impacts of flood, I thank the Delegation of the European Union for their generous support in providing the airbridge between the capital city and other flood affected areas for dispatching critical life-saving supplies, specially at a time when these areas are cut-off from rest of the country owing to lockdown and restriction of flights. Our collaboration with the EU will save lives and minimize health impact of these catastrophic events. This solidarity remains critical for this country besieged with so many health challenges”.
This joint operation is part of a new bilateral coordination mechanism established between the WHO country office and the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Somalia, aimed at strengthening operational response activities, including for COVID-19. On 3 May, EU flights also airlifted critical medical equipment and supplies from Mogadishu to Kismayo to support Jubaland state in tackling COVID-19.
In addition, the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) recently provided €1.4 million to WHO’s Covid-19 preparedness and response operations in Somalia.
Heavy rains and floods have affected about 918,000 people across Somalia of whom 412,000 have been displaced and 24 killed in 29 districts so far. Belet Weyne in Hiraan region is the most affected district after the Shabelle river burst its banks on 12 May and flooded 85 percent of the town and 25 riverine villages. Jowhar, another agricultural centre has also been hard hit by flooding. International aid organisations have warned of potential outbreaks of cholera and other water-borne diseases due to overcrowding in areas where those who have been displaced are seeking temporary shelter.