07 January 2005

Effects of Tsunami Also Felt in East Africa

As many as 54,000 people affected in Somalia

The massive tsunami in the Indian Ocean that inundated many countries in Southeast and South Asia December 26, 2004, has also had effects as far away as East Africa, touching primarily Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya.

While international estimates of the total dead from the tsunami are now expected to exceed 150,000 in the Indian Ocean region, casualty figures given by the Associated Press list 200 tsunami-related deaths in Somalia, 10 in Tanzania and one in Kenya, sites thousands of miles from the epicenter of the earthquake that caused the tsunami.

Additionally, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated January 3 that some 54,000 Somalis, principally those who were living along the northeastern coast of the country, have been directly impacted by the disaster.

The most affected areas in Somalia, the United Nations estimates, include a 650-kilometer long band of coastline between the island of Hafun, the Bari Region and the village of Garacad.

A large number of houses and fishing boats were damaged or destroyed, but Famine Early Warning System Network of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) points to a more invisible threat. It estimates that water systems and water sources in the affected areas of Somalia have been partially destroyed and that shallow wells have been completely contaminated or buried by sea water, rendering them useless for a long time to come.

At the same time, USAID warns, poor road infrastructure is hindering the ability of humanitarian agencies to reach affected areas along some 650 kilometers of Somali coast.

The U.N. World Food Programme has dispatched 277 metric tons of emergency food assistance to 17,000 affected people in Hafun, the most heavily impacted area. USAID has provided $50,000 to UNICEF for emergency relief activities in Somalia.

The United States and many donor nations do not recognize any government in Somalia, so information on the impact of the disaster - and the relief effort -- has been sketchy.


Post a Comment

<< Home