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Floods Rise Faster Than Funds for E Africa Aid

Flood Waters Rise Faster Than Funds for UN Aid to Hundreds of Thousands in East Africa

New York, Dec 19 2006 3:00PM

Flood waters in East Africa are rising much faster than funding for United Nations efforts to feed some 1.5 million people whose lives are threatened by the disaster.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today voiced deep concern about growing food shortages in Somalia, yet the UN has so far received only $5 million of the $18 million it requested two weeks ago to help the victims of the worst flooding in the impoverished Horn of Africa country’s recent history.

Farmers had already been fleeing the Bay region due to armed conflict there, but the floods have now brought new concerns for crops as well as deteriorating sanitary conditions and heightened levels of water-borne diseases, OCHA spokesperson Elizabeth Byrs told a news briefing in Geneva.

Some 455,000 Somalis are receiving food by helicopter and trucks and airdrops are scheduled for the coming days, UN World Food Programme (WFP) spokesman Simon Pluess told the briefing.

In Kenya, the rains, though more moderate now, are continuing, with 114 people reported dead and some 723,000 more affected by the flooding as of earlier this month, Ms. Byrs said. The waters are very high in the region of Lake Victoria and the Tana River basin, where 20 health centres are no longer accessible to humanitarian workers and 180,000 people need food and health aid.

Mr. Pluess said airdrops were planned to begin in Kenya tomorrow, while aid was also being delivered to the Tana River area by heavy-lift helicopters. Over the next two weeks, WFP will seek to airdrop 950 tons in Dardar Camp to ensure food for the area after 1 January.

Overall, WFP has fed 563,000 Kenyans and 100,000 Somali refugees in Kenya, 455,000 people in Somalia and 362,000 in Ethiopia.

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Wendy Chamberlin visited camps sheltering some 160,000 mainly Somali refugees in the Dadaab region of north-east Kenya after they fled drought and deadly factional fighting in their homeland. Tens of thousands of them have been displaced by flooding in recent weeks.

“This is my second visit to Dadaab this year. When I came in February, you were facing drought-related problems – now you are witnessing floods,” she said while touring two of the camps over the weekend. “I am struck with the cycle of death that Somali refugees face in this camp.”


ENDS

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