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Red Cross Appeals for Aid to Help Flood Victims in Burkina Faso and Senegal

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies is asking for donations to help victims of flooding in Burkina Faso and Senegal. The aid groups are seeking $4.6 million to support the flood relief efforts in the two countries. More than half of the nearly 600,000 West Africans affected by this rainy season's flooding live in Burkina Faso and Senegal.

"We have assessed the situations in both countries, and what we have come up with is to continue supporting the national societies in providing water sanitation, shelter and shelter kits because most houses are damaged," said Alasan Senghore, head of IFRC operations in West and Central Africa.

In Burkina Faso, nine people are dead and 150,000 are affected by heavy rains. The central hospital in the capital is badly damaged by flood waters. More than 100,000 people are homeless, many now living in schools and community centers that are so overcrowded men are sleeping outside where they are exposed to malarial mosquitoes breeding on fields of standing water.

The government in Ouagadougou says those displaced will be resettled. And Senghore says local Red Cross volunteers are ready to help.

"The government is yet to decide on the sites to relocate the displaced. So now we have trucks that have arrived from our warehouse in Accra. We are distributing non-food items: blankets, mosquito nets, cooking sets, and so on, and shelter material. And then the next stage is once the government decides on where they are going to relocate, together with the other agencies, we will work toward setting up the camps and helping to build up sanitation and so on," Senghore said.

In Senegal, nearly 250,000 people are affected by flooding, most in low-lying suburbs outside the capital, Dakar. But there are also displaced families elsewhere in Senegal, and Senghore says volunteers are helping people outside the northern city of St. Louis.

"We have been supporting the population in Dagana, which is outside St. Louis, where 127 families are displaced and they have no shelter at all. So the national society volunteers have been busy putting up shelter for them. We have been helping them dig latrines and organize sanitation," said Senghore.

Senghore says the money raised in this appeal will be used to provide six months of assistance for 65,000 people most affected by the flooding - 40,000 in Burkina Faso and 25,000 in Senegal.

IFRC emergency response units and field assessment and coordination teams are expected in Burkina Faso late Friday and in Senegal within the next few days.