4 March 2010 To help victims of the deadly mudslides in eastern Uganda, the United Nations refugee agency today announced that it will help thousands of people forced from their homes by the torrential rains.
First reported on Tuesday, several days of downpours and floods in an area near Uganda’s border with Kenya have washed away people and property. More than 80 people have died and hundreds more are missing.
“This is a human tragedy that we cannot turn a blind eye to,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “This is a sad reminder of the suffering that natural disasters are imposing on more and more poor people across the globe.”
A team in Uganda from the agency, known as UNHCR, plans to provide tents and plastic sheeting for emergency shelter to meet the needs of 5,000 people.
Since last October, the Great Lakes nation has been experiencing heavy rains – expected to last another month – believed to be tied to the El Niño weather phenomenon.
Yesterday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the UN and its partners have dispatched two teams – comprising representatives from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and others – to assess the situation.
UNICEF has also provided the Ugandan Health Ministry with two emergency health kits and 100 body bags, as the Government leads the humanitarian response.
The disaster area is currently only accessible by foot or air due to its remoteness and lack of any serviceable roads, and the mudslides buried a health centre. OCHA said that immediate health needs include first aid and support in accessing medical facilities.
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