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Floods displace millions of people in West Africa

Floods displace millions of people in West Africa

The floods in West Africa, the worst in the last 10 years, have caused hundreds of deaths and forced the displacement of millions of people, said a report by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Friday 28.

Floods in West Africa

This situation “is increasing the risks of diseases, such as cholera and malnutrition, plus protection risks, since this area is also affected by conflicts and armed groups that increase the suffering of the populations,” said UNHCR spokesperson Olga Sarrado.

In Nigeria alone, the government’s National Emergency Agency reported at least 600 deaths between August and October, and more than 1.3 million were displaced, among some three million people affected by exceptional rains that destroyed 82,000 homes and almost 400,000 hectares of land.

UNHCR, based in this Swiss city, said that in Nigeria, one of the six countries with the highest risk of populations falling into a situation of catastrophic hunger, the agency is striving to reach communities and centres of displaced persons and refugees with relief materials.

In addition to Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, with 2.123 million inhabitants, the rains and floods have also severely punished populations in neighbouring countries, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Mali and Niger.

Floods affected million people

The government of Chad -17 million inhabitants- declared a state of emergency after the floods affected more than a million people.

“The climate crisis is happening now, destroying livelihoods, disrupting food security, exacerbating conflicts over scarce resources, and causing displacement”

Olga Sarrado.

Heavy rains in the south of the country (bordering Nigeria and Cameroon) caused the Chari and Logone rivers to overflow, flooding fields, killing livestock and forcing more than 90,000 people to flee their homes and seek refuge in N’Djamena.

In Cameroon, more than 63,000 people were affected by the flooding of two rivers in the northern districts of the country.

In the central Sahel zone – the semi-arid belt that runs from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and separates the Sahara desert from the forests in the centre of the continent – ​​above-average rains and floods have killed hundreds of people, displaced thousands and decimated more than a million hectares of crops.

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Displacements increase

In this area, some 380,000 internally displaced persons live in the areas of Burkina Faso affected by the floods, while in Niger, of some 32,000 affected, at least 13,000 have been displaced. Victims in Mali exceed 41,000.

The displacements increase the vulnerability of the communities, especially rural ones, before the armed groups that act in those countries affected by the floods, including militias that claim to be Islamists, contend with the state forces and practice exactions on the civilian population.

At the other end of the continent, East Africa, there is a contrasting climate situation.

In South Sudan, two-thirds of the country is experiencing flooding, affecting at least 900,000 people, as floodwaters have swept away homes, livestock and crops, forcing more than 400,000 people to displace and worsening a food emergency that was already serious.

Risk of disease outbreaks

Wells and latrines have been submerged, contaminating water sources and risking disease outbreaks.

Meanwhile, in the eastern Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia) and its neighbour Kenya, the worst drought in 40 years is being experienced, and 36 million people are affected by situations of food insecurity, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations.

The drought affects 24 million inhabitants in Ethiopia, 7.8 million in Somalia and 4.2 million in Kenya. Against this background, Sarrado stressed that “the link between climate crises and displacement is clear and growing.”

“The climate crisis is happening now, destroying livelihoods, disrupting food security, exacerbating conflicts over scarce resources, and causing displacement,” Sarrado said.

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