File photo. (Xinhua)
MOGADISHU, May 23 (Xinhua) — At least 25 people were killed and 27 others missing after tropical cyclone Sagar caused heavy rains and flooding in Somaliland in northern Somalia.
Somaliland presidency that released figures on Tuesday said 12 have been injured, including several children, while the death toll is expected to rise further.
According to the presidency, some 167,250 families living along the coastal strip had been affected by the floods.
International charity Save the Children warned that the cyclone could make the situation for children even more critical, exposing them to greater food shortages, displacement and water-borne diseases.
The powerful tropical cyclone with winds in excess of 120 km/hour and heavy rain landed in Somalia on Friday.
According to the charity, Sagar tore through the coastal north of the country, destroying homes and livelihoods in its wake.
“Initial reports also indicate the loss of a large number of livestock with at least 700 farms destroyed. Livestock and farming are the main sources of livelihoods for pastoralist families in the area,” the charity said in a statement.
Mukhtar Muhammed, Save the Children’s Area Representative for Somaliland, said they are extremely concerned about the safety of children and communities in the affected areas.
“This is the worst cyclone we have ever seen in Somaliland. Huge parts of the affected areas remain inaccessible as a result of flooding and many families are cut off from the outside world,” Muhammed said.
According to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the rainfall was the heaviest Somalia has seen in over 30 years.
The self-declared republic of Somaliland has been trapped in a protracted drought for the past five years and is suffering severe food shortages as supply stores and food markets have been destroyed or washed away due to the extreme weather.
Somaliland’s two main ports, Hargeisa Airport and Berbera Seaport, which are vital to the delivery of aid to the region, remain closed due to the damage, said the presidency.
“As a result, agencies are warning of food shortages for the next few weeks, potentially putting thousands of children’s lives at risk, particularly those who are already food insecure,” said the charity.
“Somaliland is home to some of the most vulnerable children on the planet. More than 4 million people, half of them children, don’t know where their next meal is coming from. This cyclone is affecting families who have already lost so much. What was already a critical situation for children is now likely to get worse,” Muhammed said.
The cyclone comes at a time when the region has yet to recover from a five-year drought that has destroyed livelihoods and left people entirely dependent on humanitarian support.
In January, Somaliland issued a special appeal for humanitarian support for specific regions that were on the brink of famine and are now reeling from the effects of Cyclone Sagar.