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Regional Humanitarian Update Apr 2007: Vol 1, Issue 2

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CROSS BORDER & REGIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

Long Rains in the Horn

As forecasted in March by the IGAD Prediction and applications Centre (ICPAC), the heavy rains expected in many parts of the Horn of Africa are ongoing. According to Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM), the water levels of rivers in Somalia are within the normal range expected at this time of the year. However, fears remain over the possibility of flooding in the Shabelle and Juba riverine areas as a result of increased rainfall in Ethiopian highlands.

Rehabilitation of priority infrastructure, such as the Duduble Canal, intended to avert flooding through diversion of flood water, remains critical as a means of ensuring resilience and recovery for the communities. Existing safe havens from flood prone areas in Jowhar have been affected by the increased number of IDPs as the result of conflict in Mogadishu. According to UNHCR, an estimated 365,000 people have been displaced from Mogadishu between 1 February and 27 April, including 147,000 in Lower and Middle Shabelle who are consequently at risk from floods, poor access and epidemics.

According to OCHA Somalia, agencies have stepped up preparedness levels and the Flood Working Group (FWG) has focussed on addressing hydro meteorological issues, early warning, contingency planning and flood situation reports, while the Inter-Cluster Working Group (ICWG) is focussing on operational issues.

In Ethiopia, normal and above normal rainfall continued to fall in Belg areas of the south-western Ethiopian highlands. On 12 April, following heavy rainfall, the city of Dire Dawa experienced flash flooding. There were no reports of casualties as early warning messages allowed people to move to higher ground. In addition, substantial amounts of rainfall were recorded in the month of April, especially in Gedo region of Ethiopia, whose waters flow downstream into River Shabelle.

According to the Kenya Meteorological Department, the long rains season is at its 'peak' in key agricultural areas situated in western and south western Kenya, with most areas already experiencing slightly enhanced rainfall. Most affected so far are nine villages in Busia district that were recently flooded after the River Nzoia burst its banks; and areas in Baringo district where floods led to destruction of infrastructure and hindered the delivery of government relief aid. The Kenya Red Cross has warned that the heavy floods could lead to an outbreak of water-borne diseases. Measures to avert possible disease outbreaks are underway. The Kenya Red Cross has recorded the displacement of approximately 2,469 people (410 families) following flooding in Budalangi in Western Kenya and is currently distributing non food items (NFIs). The National Irrigation Board is undertaking activities to redirect water into Lake Victoria.

Mt. Elgon Clashes affect Uganda

Clashes in the Mt. Elgon area (north western Kenya) since December 2006 have resulted in 158 deaths, over 120 seriously injured and the displacement of an estimated 66,816 people. With the escalation of the clashes, the current number of IDPs is expected to increase further. The clashes have taken a regional dimension with displacement reported across the border into Uganda. OCHA Uganda led inter-agency rapid assessment mission to Manafwa district at the border with Kenya on 16-17 April to assess the humanitarian situation in areas hosting the Kenyan population and to prioritize response activities. Preliminary reports following field visits to three of the four affected sub-counties - Bomoni, Bupoto and Bumbo - revealed an estimated 5,000 people have fled into Uganda as a result of the inter-communal clashes.

The overall food security situation remains precarious and health facilities across the Kenyan-Ugandan border are either limited or strained beyond their capacity. The onset of the rains could further exacerbate the already poor living conditions in the host areas and contribute to the outbreak of diseases such as pneumonia and Malaria. Water and sanitation facilities are exposed to contamination.

The host population has little capacity to cater for further influxes. The majority of the displaced in do not foresee their return to Kenya until after the December 2007 elections. They have also indicated their unwillingness to be formally registered by the authorities or as refugees as they are reluctant to move further away from their places of origin and property across the border. Comprehensive humanitarian response to the current situation therefore remains critical on both sides of the border.

Humanitarian Profile in Darfur-Chad-Central Africa Republic

The ongoing insecurity in Darfur, Chad and CAR is responsible for the death, injury and displacement of millions of civilians. Today, over 378,000 refugees are scattered through Darfur, Chad and CAR while about 2.5 million people remain internally displaced in the region. Almost 3 million people have, in one way or another, been affected by the conflict which started in Darfur in 2003 and later spread to Chad and CAR. The table below summarises the humanitarian situation of the people that have been caught in this conflict.

In terms of humanitarian response, OCHA Sudan's Darfur Humanitarian Profile of January 2007 identified gaps in all the major sectors - food, shelter and non-food items (NFIs), water and sanitation and protection. Gaps in humanitarian response have also been identified in Chad. In March, OCHA Chad identified sectors with major gaps in humanitarian assistance in eastern Chad as education, food security, health and nutrition and NFIs. In the south where CAR refugees are located, protection and water and sanitation have been noted as major gap areas in addition to education, food security, health and nutrition and NFIs.

In CAR, where up to 1 million people have been affected by the violence in the north west and north east, gaps exist in all the sectors - coordination, education, food security, health, protection, human rights and Rule of Law, shelter and NFIs, water and sanitation. This is partly due to funding gaps and little presence of humanitarian actors.

On 4 April, Under-Secretary -General John Holmes briefed the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in the Darfur-Chad-CAR region. Underlining the need to improve security and humanitarian access, Holmes suggested that, given Chad's reluctance, alternative options would include deploying a UN mission solely in the CAR for the time being, or strengthening of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC)'s military operation deployed in the CAR (FOMUC). Sir John Holmes further underscored that "there are in each case national conflicts and national political issues which need to be resolved independently of whether there is a resolution in Darfur. We must not lose sight of that and the need to tackle those issues as well."

http://www.securitycouncilreport.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.