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Namibian Flood Victims Need More Than $1M Aid

Namibian flood victims need more than $1 million of assistance - UNICEF

23 March 2008 - The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is calling for $1.2 million to help with relief efforts in northern Namibia, where floods falling recent above-average rainfall have displaced tens of thousands of people and sparked fears of a surge in infectious diseases.

More than 65,000 people could eventually be displaced by the floods, the agency said in an update issued this week, which began after heavy rains in January and February in both Namibia and the area surrounding the Cuvelai River system in neighbouring Angola.

UNICEF said it was particularly concerned about the risks faced by orphans and other vulnerable children given that northern Namibia is one of the country's most densely populated area's and its HIV rates range from 20 per cent to 40 per cent.

Namibian Government information indicates that the administrative regions of Omusati, Oshikoto, Oshana, Ohangwena and Caprivi have been hit hardest by the latest floods, which have occurred at the same time as inundations in other Southern African countries, such as Zambia.

Nearly 100 schools have had to be closed temporarily, while at least 26 health-care clinics have been rendered inaccessible, large amounts of livestock have been lost and sources of safe drinking water have been contaminated.

One of the biggest concerns now is the potential outbreak of infectious diseases as mosquitoes breed in the numerous pool of stagnant water. The situation is complicated by the substantial damage to many roads and other vital infrastructure, preventing aid from reaching affected areas.

Namibian officials have reported 30 confirmed cases of cholera (including two deaths) and more than 150 other suspected cases across the north. In the Caprivi administrative region, locals have reported a jump in the number of reported skin disorders and in other diseases, such as chicken pox, conjunctivitis, ringworm and respiratory tract infections.

UNICEF said it was working with other UN agencies and with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to assist the Namibian authorities to provide locals with emergency food assistance, temporary shelter, sanitation and other basic services. It is also re-directing some of its funding to bring immediate relief to the affected area.

ENDS

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