Heavy rains, floods displace hundreds of thousands in Africa

2019-11-07 10:15:27

Heavy rains and floods have killed more than 50 people and forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes across East Africa as researchers warn warming oceans are causing unpredictable weather patterns in the region.

South Sudan declared a national emergency last week after 420,000 people fled from the floods, the United Nations said.

Workers from charity Medicins Sans Frontieres are working to combat potential disease outbreaks in the town of Pibor, about 340 km east of the capital Juba near the Ethiopian border, after rising waters destroyed homes and livestock.

“We now live with dead animals, waste and garbage all submerged under these waters,” said resident Veronica Komor, aged 42.

Bolo Choa, a 36-year old mother, pleaded for help.

“This is so hard for a disabled person like me, everyone is trying to save themselves first. The water is getting deeper daily, I cannot crawl in it,” she said.

The natural disaster adds to an already desperate situation in South Sudan, which is reeling from a civil war that has killed about 400,000 people and forced nearly a third of the population to flee.

“What happened is a sudden flood which occurred here in Pibor and the water covered the whole town from market, to schools, houses and cattle camps all submerged,” said local health worker Regina Marco.

It was the worst flood ever to hit the area, she said.

“We are gathered here in this small dry land which is caving in as well. Even the airport. Up to now, there’s no relief... what we need from the government is to dig the river so that it can contain the water in one place,” Marco said.

In Somalia, overflowing rivers have flooded communities, displacing 370,000 and destroying farms. Floods have killed at least 17 people there, the United Nations said.

Neighboring Ethiopia has had more than 200,000 people displaced. In Kenya, at least 17,000 have been forced from their homes and 48 people killed.