• On 21 April, heavy rains triggered widespread flash floods across Djibouti town, affecting many and causing eight fatalities. Additional rainfalls are forecasted throughout the week.
• Hospital Bouffard, where COVID-19 testing facilities are located, was affected, creating disruptions in the operations.
• The Government mobilized to assess the situation and provide support to the population.
In the night between 20 and 21 April, Djibouti city received 80 mm of rainfall in few hours (half of the annual average), triggering widespread flash floods. Heavy rains also occurred in other areas of the country, causing some damages. In Arta province some 100 mm of rainfall were recorded in the same time span in Damerjog, Chebelley; 110 mm in Iskoutir; and 80mm in PK20. In ali Sabieh province, the capital received 60mm of rainfall, and the refugee village of Ali Addeh 70mm.
Initial estimates indicate that some 18,000 households (approximately 110,000 persons) were somewhat affected across Djibouti city and its suburb of Balbala. At least eight people, including three children and two women lost their lives as their hut – built at the margin of the seasonal river (oued) that separates Djibouti town from Balbala - was washed away by the floodwater.
In Djibouti city, several roads have been inundated and huts were damaged in the Balbala area. The Bouffard hospital, where the COVID-19 testing facility is located, was also flooded, thereby affecting testing operations.
The government immediately mobilized motor pumps and other assets to liberate the main arteries and critical facilities from floodwater.
Social workers from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Solidarity (MASS) were dispatched to assess the situation and identify the most critically affected households. Additional information is being sought.
Whilst the country COVID-19 lockdown continues, many people, especially those living in low areas and prone to flooding, sought refuge in the houses of neighbors and family members. Many have lost their household goods and food.
IOM activated their network and IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) rapid assessment team engaged with key informants across Djibouti city and Balbala suburb. Many migrants are particularly vulnerable since in many cases their shelters are inappropriate to withstand heavy rains. Interviews indicate that up to 110,000 people (Djiboutian, migrants and refugees) had their houses inundated. The most affected areas include Arhiba (4,000 families), Quartier 7 and Quartier 7bis (2,000 families each), Quartier 6 (1,500 families), Quartier 2 and Quartier 4 and Oued Ambouli (1,000 families each), Einguela and Ambouli (800 families each). All these zones were amongst the most afflicted by the November 2019 floods. In Balbala, some 500 families also suffered losses.
UNHCR tollfree helpline received several requests for support by urban refugees who were most affected by the floods. Initial estimates indicate that some 700 refugee families living in Djibouti city (quartiers 1,2,3,4, Ambouli, Boulaos, Einguela, Arhiba and Balbala) suffered some damages. A team was also dispatched to assess the situation in the refugee villages in the Ali Sabieh province and provide support, in collaboration with authorities.
Against this background, authorities are doing their outmost to continue tracing and testing of COVID19 cases. As of 21 April, the Ministry of Health confirmed 945 cases (99 in the last 24 hours), with 8,955 tests carried out, the highest per capita rate across Africa.