War-torn Somalia battles floods, malaria

By Staci Dennis

SOMALIA - Floods, famine, disease, civil unrest and war have led to dangerous conditions for the people of Somalia - conditions that have been present in the country for more than a decade, but rarely all at one time.

"The lawlessness, drought and flooding, along with the risk of harrowing, life-threatening diseases are all horribly prevalent," said David Darg, assistant director of international programs with Operation Blessing International.

Darg is currently in Nairobi working to secure aid for Somalia's refugees, many of whom have little access to primary healthcare, food or shelter.

Recent flooding has not only destroyed local crops, but has also led to a surge in the mosquito population. The mosquitoes have already begun to transport deadly diseases such as malaria and Rift Valley Fever, a deadly infection with symptoms similar to the Ebola virus, where the victim bleeds to death.

The disease is now spilling over into Kenya where, since December, more than 500 people have been infected and 150 have died from the virus, according to published reports from the Kenyan government.

To aid the people of Somalia, Operation Blessing International relief teams and German partner Humedica crossed the border in Northern Kenya to reach the remote community of El Wak, where they distributed 2,000 mosquito nets. Darg says the nets will help protect more than 7,000 people.

"There's no infrastructure in Somalia; no healthcare infrastructure," Darg said. "It is because of the insecurity that it is very difficult for foreign aid organizations to get here. Fortunately, we are here bringing hope and life to these people."

Plans for a second relief phase include a distribution of hygiene items, tarpaulins, food and cooking utensils, to aid more than 12,500 people.

The goal, according to Darg, is to assist the internally displaced people who have fled during the recent fighting.

"We are committed to staying there and helping these people," Darg said. The region we are serving is very remote, but it is necessary we reach them."

George Thomas with CBN News contributed to this report.

How You Can Help

You can take part in helping Somalia's refugees by making an online donation toward OBI's disaster relief programs. With your support, OBI can continue to bring much-needed food, water, medical supplies and more to those caught in the midst of disaster.