Focus on Africa

Somalia floods: Bodies unearthed and bridges swept away

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Somalia has experienced its worst floods in a century, with gushing waters sweeping through a cemetery in the central city of Galkayo, leaving bodies floating through the streets. Residents, including Ayaan Mohamed, have fled the neighborhood, fearing an outbreak of disease as houses are partially submerged and human remains floating nearby. Some of the bodies were recognisable, further traumatizing people, and unearthed bones have also been found.

At least 32 people have been killed across the country, and the UN warns that more than 1.6 million people could be affected in the devastating floods. The situation in Galkayo is not as severe as in the Gedo region of southern Somalia, where the River Juba has burst its banks and swept away a key bridge in the city of Bardere. Most residents have been forced to move to the outskirts, and many have had to leave their homes.

Mohamed Abdirahin, a 70-year-old merchant and farmer, left everything behind after the floodwaters first inundated his shop and then brought down his home. He is finding it hard to come to terms with how swiftly his life was transformed as floodwaters first inundated his shop and then brought down his home.

One part of the city, on higher ground, has been spared but has become inaccessible by road without the bridge. It is a vital lifeline for those that have lost their homes as the district has food stores and a health care center. People have to use small boats to reach there, waiting more than four hours for boats to go and get for them something to eat.

Somalia’s fragile, UN-backed government has been trying to provide emergency relief, but it says it cannot cover all the affected areas. Some areas are not in the hands of the government and are controlled by the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab.