UN food aid reaches tens of thousands of Ethiopian flood victims

UN food aid reaches tens of thousands of Ethiopian flood victims

Flood victim in Ethiopia
Distribution of food for more than 60,000 Ethiopian flood victims has started amid some overcrowding in temporary shelters and the threat of an outbreak of water-borne diseases, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported today.

Distribution of food for more than 60,000 Ethiopian flood victims has started amid some overcrowding in temporary shelters and the threat of an outbreak of water-borne diseases, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported today.

More than180,000 people in Amhara, Afar and Tigray in northern Ethiopia, in Gambella in the west and in the Southern Nations region in the south were hit by the seasonal floods and 42,000 people have been displaced. Some are living in temporary shelters such as schools and mobile health clinics or under plastic sheeting, while others have been taken in by relatives or friends.

“Food distributions have started to the women, children and men hardest hit by the floods and WFP will work with the concerned authorities to do whatever needs to be done,” WFP Ethiopia Country Director Mohamed Diab said.

WFP is part of a Government-led assessment team travelling to the three flood-affected regions to determine the extent of needs following the flooding and its longer-term impact.

“We are waiting for the return of the assessment mission to see what more needs to be done by the Government and humanitarian partners,” Mr. Diab said. “The floods hit most parts of the country, but in some areas it appears that communities were better prepared and avoided widespread displacement and loss of life.”

To date, the death toll has reached 17 people, while some 4,000 head of livestock have been drowned or washed away and 34,000 hectares of land have been damaged.

The number of displaced in Amhara Region is rising, leading to overcrowding in temporary shelters and the threat of outbreaks of serious communicable and water-borne diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea and malaria. Some estimates show that 100 to 200 people are displaced each day.

There are also fears that the increased water levels of the Omo and Wabelle Shabele rivers could lead to more flooding.

In 2006, Ethiopia experienced some of the heaviest and most intense flooding that it has ever seen. More than 600 people were killed and there was also extensive damage to infrastructure and property.