SUDAN: Emergency help for flood victims as death toll rises

Monday, July 16, 2007

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is to launch an emergency effort to help thousands of people displaced by heavy rains and flash floods across Sudan that have left 30 dead and scores injured.

The announcement on 12 July came just days after a multi-agency emergency response from the international humanitarian community said it was putting in place a Common Pipeline system to deliver aid to those affected by the floods.

The system, a joint supply operation managed by the UN Joint Logistics Center with support from the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) and CARE, an NGO, hopes to boost the government’s capability to respond to the disaster.

"WFP has joined forces with other UN agencies and the Sudanese government to get emergency supplies, including food and non-food items, moving quickly to the victims of the flooding," said Kenro Oshidari, WFP Sudan representative, in a statement.

Sudan’s civil defence authority said the floods had demolished 15,000 houses across Sudan and predicted that this year’s rainy season would be more severe than previous years.

The floods, which have affected North Kordofan and White Nile States in central Sudan, Kassala in the east and Sennar in the southeast, are already worse than last year’s, which killed at least 27 people and destroyed almost 10,000 houses.

Interior Minister Zubeir Taha said about 30 people had been killed and an estimated 100 injured by the floods so far.

“As an immediate first step, the agency plans to distribute food to 20,000 people in five locations near the city of Kassala, close to the Eritrean border, where the Gash River has burst its banks. WFP has 3,000 metric tons of food stockpiled in Kassala, enough to feed the flood victims for three weeks,” said WFP. 

The government has declared a state of alert in the regions hit hardest by the floods and has also been mobilising help, including providing pumps to drain water and equipment to spray against mosquitoes. Health officials have warned about the spread of disease as a result of pools of stagnant water and the collapse of latrines, but so far there have been no reports of outbreaks.

The floods have submerged villages and caused immense damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges. Victims accused local authorities of not making the necessary preparations such as erecting dykes, while officials blamed residents for ignoring warnings by the authorities.

“Rations are being handed out along a tarmac road on higher ground where people displaced by the flood waters have taken refuge,” WFP said.

It added that it was teaming up with other UN agencies to send assessment teams to central Sudan to determine the extent of the damage and level of assistance needed.
Common Pipeline partners said they were providing essential supplies to flood victims such as plastic sheeting, blankets, cooking sets, jerry cans, sleeping mats and mosquito nets.

Source: IRIN