Thursday, September 07, 2006

Urgent Appeal for the Victims of flooding in the Omo River Valley, Ethiopia

The recent devastating flood that affected SouthernEthiopia followed the catastrophic flooding in DireDawa that claimed the lives of 260 people. Theflooding in the Omo River Valley is part of anationwide crisis following the unusually intense andcontinuous rainfall that has resulted in flashflooding and overflowing of rivers. The heavy rainsthat washed the central plateau and highlands ofSouthwest Ethiopia forced the backing of water fromLake Turkana (Lake Rudolf), a lake without an outletthat receives most of its water from the Omo River.This forced the river to leave its banks and wash awaythe people and their livelihoods. By any account,this area is one of the worst affected by theprevailing floods in Ethiopia. According to theelderly and local officials, the rain and the OmoRiver have never been so hostile to the people ofGeleb and Bume as they have been this past August whenthe deluge raised the death toll to nearly 400 andmarooned over tens of thousands of people. There are confirmed reports that flooding in SouthernOmo has claimed the lives of about 400 residentsmainly in the Dassenach (Galeb) and Nyangtaom (Bume)woredas (administrative subdistricts) of the South Omozone, and has displaced approximately 10,000 peopleand washed away more than 3000 livestock and 800traditional grain stores (silos). The affected area isin the isolated delta of the Omo River in bothDassenach and Nyangataom woredas, about 800 km awayfrom the capital, Addis Ababa. Around 14 villages inthese two woredas are flooded and isolated from eachother by the water. The flood has destroyed largeareas covered by crops and much of the pastureland.

In some places the flood completely immersed a villageand killed all the residents. No survivor came out. Itis heart-breaking to learn that dead bodies could notbe found in some places because the river has takenthem down to Lake Turkana. As more information isobtained from the remote villages now encircled byfloodwaters, the level of casualties is expected to beeven higher. There are still gaps in the search andrescue mission; much of the affected populations havebeen stranded by the floodwaters because of thecontinued rainfall and the absence of enablinginfrastructure. The water level is continuing torise, increasing the population at risk andexacerbating the humanitarian crises.

Ethiopians abroad and the international community andhave on many occasions assisted Ethiopian victims ofnatural and man made calamities. In the spirit of thistradition, we appeal to all Ethiopians and others tohelp the Dassenach and Nyangataom people affectedmassively by the continued flooding that has claimedmany lives and caused immense property damage.

A team, Committee for the Rehabilitation of FloodVictims of Southern Omo has been established tocoordinate the assistance efforts to the victims offlooding in South Omo. This committee is establishedunder the auspices of the Southern Advancement SupportOrganization Inc., a certified and legally operatingnonprofit organization. The Committee for theRehabilitation of Flood Victims of Southern Omo willdo its share of increasing the awareness of theinternational community and Ethiopians abroad aboutthe gravity of the humanitarian crises in South Omo,and will coordinate the collection of funds foremergency aid (food, shelter, medical care) andrehabilitation. We have opened an account at SunTrustBank (account # 1000043166833 and routing # 061000104) for this effort. We plead to you to pledge money tothis effort and deposit or transfer your contributionsto this account. The Committee for the Rehabilitation of Flood Victimsof Southern Omo will continue to inform the public andhumanitarian agencies about the immediate needs forand the required assistance to the flood victims inSouth Omo. Please address any questions or suggestionsyou may have to the Committee at

Committee for the Rehabilitation of Flood Victims of Southern Omo

September 7, 2006

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