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Tens of Thousands Flee Sudan Floods - 2001-08-14


The Nile River normally rises in mid-August. But this year, the river has reached its highest level in more than 20 years. And this worries the Sudanese government and the International Red Cross. Both are urging people along the Nile River to be prepared to move at short notice.

The Red Cross official for Africa, Martin Fischer, says it is not a crisis at this point. But, he says it could become one very quickly if there is more rain.

"It is very much a question at this point of preparedness, alert people, making sure they are aware of what they should do when things change, sandbagging communities if that is possible and helping people who have moved," he said. "We think there are somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have moved out of their houses to safer ground."

Mr. Fischer says no one, so far, has been killed. But he says there already has been substantial loss of property. He says entire villages and settlements in River Nile and Sinnar states have been submerged. And crops, property, and livestock have been damaged in the states of Darfur, Red Sea and Kassala.

The Red Cross official says there is growing concern about flooding in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

"There are two Niles, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, which join up in Khartoum, literally in the middle of the city. And, of course, both of these are flooding and the dams up and down streams are all full," said Fischer. "So, in some ways you have got all this water flowing through a very crowded area. All along the banks of all the rivers is at risk."

The Red Cross says about two million internally displaced people or IDP's, live in shanty towns around Khartoum.

The humanitarian agency is appealing for $750,000 to support relief work for flood victims and for contingency measures in case the Nile floods the Sudanese capital.

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