Ice Melt Triggers Tajikistan Flooding, Displacement

Posted: 
07/28/15

Tajikistan - Unusually high summer temperatures in Tajikistan have caused severe glacial melt, resulting in mudflows and flooding.

Among the worst affected areas is Shughnon district in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), a remote and mountainous area bordering Afghanistan.

Over 50 houses have been destroyed, resulting in 620 people seeking refuge in the Manem camp and Manem School shelter. Structural damage to roads and bridges has made the relief effort more challenging.

IOM Tajikistan is working closely with local and international partners to respond to the situation. So far, IOM has provided electrical wiring and electrical equipment to the camp, as well as benches and tables for a dining area.

IOM is also working with the Committee of Emergency Situations of Tajikistan (COES) to procure fuel to assist in road clearance. Vital roads connecting GBAO to the rest of Tajikistan and to the Chinese border have been completely washed out by flooding or blocked by rockslides. Two bridges in GBAO have been rendered completely unusable as a result of the disaster.

“IOM has been coordinating closely with partners to assist those families displaced by the disaster in GBAO and currently in Manem camp. Another camp has been set up for families affected by mudslides in Rasht Valley and we have been asked to provide urgent help in terms of camp coordination and camp management,” said IOM Tajikistan Chief of Mission Tajma Kurt.

“We are currently working with IOM Headquarters in Geneva to bring in an IOM specialist to provide support and training for camp staff. The specialist will also train relevant government and other partners to improve future emergency preparedness,” she added.

Through the UNOCHA-coordinated consolidated appeal to donors in Tajikistan, IOM has requested USD 33,245 to purchase and supply water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) items and other non-food relief items (NFIs) to Manem camp residents.

There is also a significant risk that the situation may deteriorate. Mudflows in Barsem village in Shughnon district surged into the Gunt River, blocking its usual course by creating an artificial dam. As a result, the river is swelling to a dangerous level and if the artificial dam bursts, the main population centre of GBAO – Khorog, with a population of 30,000 – would be completely flooded.

The situation could also be further exacerbated by events on the Afghan side of the border, where armed anti-government elements have captured a district close to the Tajik border, adjacent to the flood-affected area. This could result in a cross-border movement of people from Afghanistan.

For more information, please contact Teddy Noel-Hill at IOM Tajikistan, Tel: +992 90 000 5028, Email: enoelhill@iom.int

Local residents in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) in Tajikistan try to move to safety and escape flood-affected areas. Photo : FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance