KAMPALA (AFP) — African nations that bore the brunt of the continent’s worst floods in three decades face a new epidemic threat and on Friday stepped up appeals for international help.
At least 300 people in 20 countries have died in floods over the past two months, according to figures from governments, hospitals and humanitarian sources compiled by AFP. As the extent of the damage begins to emerge epidemic warnings are growing. In Rwanda, where at least 15 people died this month in flash floods, two cholera cases have been reported in flood districts, said Innocent Nyaruhirira, minister in charge of epidemics. Cholera outbreaks have already caused 68 deaths in Sudan, one of the countries worst hit by the flooding. The United Nations said up to 625,000 people could be in need of emergency aid in Sudan.
Neighbouring Uganda has also been heavily affected by the floods, with at least 400,000 people in need of assistance in eastern regions. The European Union has decided to donate some two million euros (2.8 million dollars) to Togo, Ghana and Burkina Faso, EU officials said. Besides paying for supplies, the money is also to be used to help prevent the spread of malaria. The Togo government on Friday made its own urgent appeal for food and medical aid. Twenty three people have been reported dead in the West African nation and Cooperation Minister Gilbert Bawara told AFP: “We are launching an appeal for solidarity and international aid to relieve the people hit by the floods.”
“We need food, medicines and the means to rebuild infrastructure,” Bawara said. The flooding of key roads has paralysed the delivery of aid. Ugandan Minister of State for Refugees and Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru said the floods had affected cross-border traffic into southern Sudan and hundreds of trucks have been forced to take a longer route to the stricken region.
The non-government organisation ActionAid has criticised the relief effort in Uganda, where close to 20 people have died since the floods began and a massive food shortage looms. “There is still very slow response on the ground especially from government, though a lot has been promised since the floods in northern and eastern Uganda have now been declared a national disaster,” it said in a statement.