afrol News, 12 October - Nearly 1.5 million people have been affected by floods and 377 killed in Western and Central Africa, with Chad, northern Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria facing a serious cholera epidemic, relief officials reported today.
Benin has been hardest hit, with 360,000 people affected and 42 deaths, followed by Nigeria with 300,000 victims and 118 deaths, the spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Elisabeth Byrs, told a news briefing in Geneva.
The Beninese government declared the entire country a disaster area and has appealed for international aid, and a UN disaster assessment team has announced it may leave for the West African country tomorrow.
Among other countries affected by the floods are Niger with some 227,000 victims, Chad with nearly 145,000, and Burkina Faso with over 105,000. Burkina Faso has launched a US$ 14 million emergency plan, appealing for international funds. So far, governement has received US$ 2 million.
Meanwhile, relief organisations fear that parts of the flooded areas may soon face a serious cholera epidemic. Especially areas in Chad, northern Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria have reported early outbreaks.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports it has already scaled up its activities in Chad, which is facing one of its worst cholera epidemics in 10 years, with nearly 2,600 cases and 112 deaths reported as of the start of the month.
Cholera kits had been donated to hospitals and non-governmental organisations, and technical assistance provided to the health ministry, UNICEF reports from Chad.
The UN is planning to coordinate flood and cholera relief in the entire region, and UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos is due to begin a four-day visit to Nigeria and Niger tomorrow.
Ms Amos is to "meet with relief organisations and local authorities as they battle the heavy flooding caused by torrential rains and exceptionally high water levels of the Niger and other rivers," theUN reports.
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