Floods plague Horn of Africa, wash away refugee shelters – UN

Vehicle tries to navigate roads in Dadaab camp

6 June 2005 – Flooding continues to plague the Horn of Africa, with the number of dead and missing in Ethiopia rising and heavy rains washing away shelter for 25,000 Somali refugees in Kenya.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a 4-year-old boy was killed and his three siblings injured when their shelter collapsed in heavy rains that pounded north-eastern Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp last Thursday.

Most of the refugees’ shelters in Ifo – one of the three camps in Dadaab – collapsed or were swept away by torrential rains on the same day. Ifo hosts more than 53,000 refugees, mainly from neighbouring Somalia. There are fears of an outbreak of water-borne diseases as large numbers of pit latrines in the camp have also collapsed.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the number of confirmed dead and missing in Ethiopia continued to grow in the week since the Wabe Shebelle river burst its banks and devastated crops, property, wells and roads.

More than 100 people have been reported dead while many more remain missing. OCHA said initial assessments confirmed about 21,000 households, or over 100,000 people, have lost houses or property. Some areas have been unable to report damage because of communications problems.

Although the emergency response has been largely hindered as roads leading to the affected areas have either been washed away or are still under water, UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and a host of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the ground in the affected areas immediately offered limited assistance to the victims that could be reached.

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