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‘Profound Human Tragedy’: Somali Community Leaders in Minnesota Raise Alarms Over Catastrophic Flooding in Somalia

Somalia’s former minister of foreign affairs joined community leaders and state legislators at a Minnesota State Capitol news conference Monday to call for resources to help Somalia deal with a humanitarian crisis caused by catastrophic flooding.

The floods have killed more than 100 people and displaced 750,000 from their homes since the rainy season began in October, according to the United Nations. Overall, they have affected more than two million people across Somalia.

Among those at the news conference were public health experts, mosque leaders, and elected officials, including Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and state legislators from the Somali-American Legislative Caucus.

Mohamed Abdirizak is an advisory group member for the United Nations Center for Emergency Response Fund and former minister of foreign affairs for Somalia. He said that while 820,000 people have received shelter, food, water, and medical supplies, there is still an urgent need for emergency help.

“These numbers represent profound human tragedy involving families and communities whose lives have been upended,” Mohamed said. “The looming threat of waterborne diseases further compounds the situation. Reports of suspected cholera cases in various regions heighten the risk of communities already facing limited access to healthcare.”

Flooding in Somalia has caused “profound human tragedy involving families and communities whose lives have been upended.”Mohamed Abdirizak, United Nations official

The United Nations also reports that the flooding is expected to swamp at least 1.5 million hectares of farmland through December—more than 3.7 million acres. Roads and other infrastructure have been damaged. And hospitals and schools have closed.

The disaster comes after a famine caused by catastrophic drought in Somalia. An estimated 1.5 million children under the age of 5 face acute malnutrition between August 2023 and July 2024.

State Representative Samakab Hussein (DFL-St. Paul) opened the news conference with members of the Somali-American Legislative Caucus. He called for more humanitarian aid to the region and said the caucus is in communications with Minnesota’s members of Congress.

“As Minnesotans, we value the power of collective action and the importance of taking care of our neighborhood,” he said. “That sentiment should extend to our neighborhoods globally.”

George Conway, a United Nations official in Somalia, pointed to “recurrent climate shocks, widespread insecurity and rampant poverty” as causes of the devastation in a statement November 30

State Representative Hodan Hassan (DFL-Minneapolis) said the purpose of the news conference was to raise awareness since the state itself cannot send aid to the region.

“One of the reasons why Somalia is facing this is because Somalia has been a dumping ground for the Western countries,” Hodan said. “This is what happens when a country doesn’t have the power to stand up and be empowered to have climate control.”

“One of the reasons why Somalia is facing this is because Somalia has been a dumping ground for the Western countries. This is what happens when a country doesn’t have the power to stand up and be empowered to have climate control.”State Representative Hodan Hassan

Mohamed said that the humanitarian response to the region is “critically underfunded.” 

The United Nations reports that a $2.6 billion plan to support 7.6 million people this year has only received 42 percent of funding so far.

Ikraan Abdulle is the co-founder and chief executive officer of the Global Health Alliance, a nonprofit based in Bloomington. The group provides healthcare services in Minnesota and globally. Earlier this year, Ikraan said the Global Health Alliance delivered medical equipment to a maternity hospital in Somalia. Healthcare professionals will conduct a trip to provide training in Somalia early next year.

“We were planning on also doing a regional assessment for our next mission to see in what areas we can help,” Ikraan said. “That has been pushed back because of the floods and the safety of the area. We’re not able to get in and out safely.”

The Humanitarian African Relief Organization, a nonprofit humanitarian relief group based in Minneapolis, will hold a fundraising event on Friday, December 15 at 7 p.m. in collaboration with a local emergency flood relief committee at the Zawadi Center in Bloomington. The group is also raising funds through its website and GoFundMe. Its goal is to raise $1 million. 

Source: Sahan Journal

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