This report is produced by OCHA in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It was issued by the OCHA Yemen office. The next report will be issued when additional information on the emergency becomes available.
I. KEY HIGHLIGHTS
• The people of Socotra might be at risk of increased hunger unless immediate resources are mobilized.
• Access to shelter, non-food items and drinking water are critical priorities as supplies are either not available in the market or not affordable to most people.
II. Situation Overview
An inter-cluster mission led by OCHA visited Socotra from 29 May to 4 June to assess humanitarian needs in the aftermath of cyclone “Mekunu”. The mission was able to visit approximately 70 per cent of the affected areas and assess the status of critical infrastructure such as main roads, water networks and hospitals. While on the ground, the team initiated the distribution of food and non-food items to affected population.
According to the Governor’s office, the people of Socotra might be at risk of increased hunger unless immediate resources are mobilized to cover the food stock gap created as result of the cyclone. Seven ships carrying food stock for the period of monsoon reportedly sank with the food consignment onboard. In few weeks, sailing across sea will not be possible due to the strong winds and the island will be only accessible via the airport. Currently, there is no stock of wheat flour and sugar on the island and only low quantities of rice and other critical food supplies.
III. Key findings of the inter-cluster mission
Steroh, Badhola and Zahiq, in the area of Nowgd (located on the southern part of the island) are the locations most affected by the cyclone which the team was able to visit. It is estimated that in these areas 90 per cent of the population are in urgent need of food, non-food items and WASH assistance.
Local authorities have warned of an imminent hunger crisis, if no resources are mobilized, as approximately 90 per cent of the population in the assessed areas lost their food stocks to the cyclone and are unable to sustain themselves. Communities in Nowgd area have received assistance from the King Salman Relief Center (KSRC) - 124 food baskets - but the distribution did not cover all people in need. While on the ground, the team recorded 13 cases of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM). WFP is looking at resuming its MAM intervention which was halted in February 2016. Currently, there is no stock of wheat flour and sugar and only low quantities of rice and other essential food commodities are available in the markets.
The fishing sector, which employs 60 per cent of the population, has sustained severe damage due to the destruction of fishing equipment; families also lost most of their livestock as result of the floods.
Access to shelter and non-food items is a concern as supplies are either not available in the market or not affordable to most people. In Steroh, the assessment team identified more than 200 households who have been living in shelters made of palm leaves since 2015 after their houses were destroyed by cyclone “Chabala”. There are no available houses for IDPs to rent, as such the team concluded that cash-based interventions are not applicable. Households affected by the cyclone share shelters with other families as coping strategy or reside in tents.
The water networks in assessed areas have sustained significant damage due to the cyclone thus rendering access to clean drinking water a critical priority. Hygiene sensitization is also required as communities confirmed using dirty waters, including for drinking, thus exposing themselves to environmental hazards and water-borne diseases.
Although the cyclone has resulted in minor damage to health facilities, health service provision across the island was generally weak even before the disaster, due to lack of resources. The villages visited by the assessment team in the Nowgd area are being serviced through one health facility located in Halma village. The facility is partially functional with only one nurse and no laboratory or medicines available; to access health services locals must travel to Hydaybu.
Logistic is one of the key obstacles to bringing in humanitarian aid. One of the recently built berthing station at the sea port has been completely damaged by the heavy rains thus limiting the operational capacity of the port and its handling capacity. In few weeks, sailing across the sea will not be possible due to the strong winds and the island will be only accessible by air. It is therefore expected that partners will seek the assistance of the UN to facilitate airlifting or sea transport of relief consignments.
The population remains scattered and disperse in small numbers across the island thus hampering a timely assessment and response. The cyclone completely destroyed six bridges and partially damaged one, along the Diksam-Steroh road. The mobile network only covers the two major cities (Hydaybu and Qulensya) and only two network operators are present on the island.
The capacity of local authorities to respond to the post-cyclone situation is hampered by limited resources available. Lack of partners impedes the provision of timely information on needs; few humanitarian organizations operate on Socotra, with only one INGO having a permanent presence.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.