UN says heavy rains hamper military operations against Al-Shabaab in Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Somalia -- The devastating heavy rains and flash floods that have ripped through Somalia since October have hampered ongoing efforts to stabilize the country, the UN said Thursday.

The UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) said the recent El Nino-induced floods have affected offensive operations by the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and Somali security forces against the al-Shabab terrorist group.

UNSOS Deputy Chief of Service Delivery Michael Dorn said the floods have also inundated about 20 ATMIS military bases and surrounding communities, impacting service delivery.

"Some of the forwarding operating bases (FOBs) military bases are in a lake. It is a huge challenge for ATMIS troops. So, our job is to improve their living conditions as well as their security," Dorn said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

The statement comes after senior officials from UNSOS and ATMIS visited Dhobley in southern Somalia to assess the impact of flooding on troops at the frontlines.

Dorn said the severe flooding has made main supply routes impassable, curtailing ground support delivery to ATMIS troops in the military bases.

He noted that with the flooding of airfields that are critical to the landing and take-off of UN aircraft delivering logistical supplies to ATMIS troops, UNSOS has shifted from the use of fixed-wing aircraft to rotor-wing aircraft.

"There are of course other areas of the country like Kismayo to some extent and Dhobley where roads and airstrips are flooded. And that is a huge challenge as we cannot use the main supply road to sustain the troops," Dorn said.

The floods which have killed more than 110 people and displaced over 1 million others have affected the majority of the people in central and southern Somalia, but the worst-hit areas are low-lying neighborhoods where poorer residents and displaced people live.

Roads, bridges, and airstrips have been extensively damaged while hospitals, schools, and other vital facilities have been closed in some areas and the risk of cholera has spiked, the humanitarian agencies said.

ATMIS Sector Two Deputy Commander Adan Safe said the flooding has raised concern over the general hygiene and health of troops and surrounding communities.

"It was challenging to move supplies, equipment, and resources into and out of the FOBs due to supply lines being disrupted by floodwaters. Floods have harmed the FOB's vital infrastructure, including roads, and bridges, which has affected daily life and operational capabilities," Safe said. "Owing to pollution and a higher likelihood of waterborne infections, standing water can be dangerous to one's health." 

Source: Xinhua 

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