On 23 May 2018, tropical cyclone “Mekunu” swept through the island of Socotra flooding it heavily. On 24 May, the Government of Yemen declared a state of emergency and called on humanitarian organizations to support relief efforts. At the time of this report, rains have stopped and the cyclone is on course to make landfall in western Oman and eastern Yemen on 26 May.
The heavy rains and flooding on the island of Socotra have reportedly caused significant damage to public infrastructure and loss of life, although precise information of the extent of damage is not yet available.
However, national authorities have indicated the potential for large scale damage on the island which is inhabited by approximately 70,000 people.
The Socotra Governorate emergency room has reported a total of 19 persons as missing; destruction of property has displaced families, with at least 500 families seeking refuge in schools and hotels in the capital, Hadibo. Roads to both the eastern and western side of Socotra remain cut off. Hadibo airport is reported to have reopened and some flights may land on 26 May. Preliminary information from one NGO on the ground indicates key emergency needs to be food, shelter/non-food items, medicines and hygiene kits.
Implications on the humanitarian situation and response
• Authorities are setting up 11 temporary shelter points in the capital, mostly schools, to assist people who may have had their housing damaged by flooding.
Repairs are underway for the electricity generators to start up as large areas have been left without electricity.
• The United Arabs Emirates has dispatched helicopters in search of the missing persons. The Emirates Red Crescent has started distributing food assistance to affected people displaced to schools and public buildings in Hadibo. A local NGO has also provided Iftar meals for the displaced.
• The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre is reported to be finalising a shipment of relief items from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including food, non-food items and medicines. The NGO Humanitarian Aid and Development is mobilizing 172 community based volunteers to support rapid assessments across the island.
• Humanitarian partners on the mainland are mobilizing relief items as well as a rapid assessment team to send to Socotra. WHO emergency kits will be dispatched by air to the island on 27 May from Sayun; these will provide critical support to the Governorate Health Office. WFP is on stand-by to mobilize food supplies out of its Dubai regional depot. UNICEF, IOM and UNHCR have emergency shelter, hygiene and NFI stocks available in their Aden warehouses.
• Logistics assets are also available to be mobilized, including the VoS Apollo (due in Aden on 28 May), as well as the WFP cargo plane, currently in Djibouti. An inter-cluster assessment team is preparing to fly to Socotra from Aden with UNHAS as soon as possible.
• Cyclone ‘Mekunu’ has struck Socotra Island barely a week after cyclone ‘Sagar’ swept through Yemen’s southern coast, causing localized flash flooding and some damage to infrastructure in Hadramaut Governorate. Initial assessments indicate that up to 950 households might have been displaced with many sheltering with relatives, in schools and in other public buildings.
• The humanitarian response in Hadramaut and Al Maharah governorates, particularly food aid and emergency WASH supplies, is being coordinated and supported by humanitarian partners based in Aden.
• On 25 of May, the High Relief Committee and the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC) of the Government of Yemen issued appeals to the UN, international organizations and to provide urgent aid to Socotra, as well as support for the preparedness of local authorities in Al Maharah, Hadhramaut, and Shabwah governorates, that are likely to be affected by significant flooding in the coming days.
• OCHA continues to follow-up closely with local authorities, partners on the ground and with the humanitarian organisations based in Aden for any needed support.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.