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UN humanitarian agency rushes emergency aid to flood-ravaged Uruguay

UN humanitarian agency rushes emergency aid to flood-ravaged Uruguay

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced today that it is sending an emergency cash grant of $30,000 to Uruguay to aid victims of flooding, the worst the country has seen in half a century.

Approximately 12,000 people have been forced from their homes and 110,000 people, the majority being the poor and vulnerable such as women, children and the elderly, have been affected by the heavy rains, OCHA reported. Seven of the country’s 19 departments have been affected, with three central ones – Durazno, Soriano and Treinta y Tres – suffering the worst.

Most of the displaced are currently living in Council shelters and local sports clubs, and most schools in the affected areas have been shut down.

Thousands of homes and much of the public infrastructure – such as the water supply, sewer and drainage systems, power and telephone lines, roads, agricultural land and municipal buildings – have been damaged.

The OCHA grant, which comes after an official Government request for UN assistance, will be channelled through the world body’s Resident Coordinator in the South American country and will be utilized for the purchase of relief supplies and to provide logistical support for national and local authorities.

Of particular concern is the water and sanitation situation in the areas affected by the flooding, with roughly 30,000 people having no access to clean drinking water. There is also an increased risk of waterborne disease spreading in vulnerable communities.

Preliminary needs include food, blankets and mattresses for those driven from their homes, as well as chlorine, soap and other cleaning supplies to prevent the spread of disease.

With adverse conditions expected to persist in the coming days, the number of people affected by heavy rains is expected to increase, especially as flood waters reach lower-lying areas.