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UN: Thousands Devastated by Flooding in Kenya


The United Nations says massive flooding in Northern, Central and Western Kenya has devastated the lives of tens of thousands of people. The Kenyan Red Cross reports 21 people are confirmed dead and 30,000 are affected by the floods.

Heavy rains started falling in Kenya 10 days ago. It is still raining and this is adding to the concerns of the people and the aid agencies trying to help them.

Humanitarian agencies are afraid thousands more people are at risk of becoming homeless and losing their livelihoods if heavy rains persist.

Spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Elizabeth Byrs, tells VOA roads, bridges, schools and other infrastructure have been damaged in this first wave of flooding. "The crops have been damaged and the impact of the loss has not been fully assessed. They have lost also their cattle. Thousands of cattle have been washed away. And, several assessment missions have been sent," she said.

Byrs says the results of these missions will not be known for several weeks. She says 20,000 people in seven villages in Turkana district in Northern Kenya are severely affected by floods. She says some people have lost their lives, thousands are homeless and have lost their livelihoods. She says 10,000 people are without shelter and in need of tents.

She says the flooding has heightened concerns for a cholera outbreak in Turkana. This is because the district faced an unprecedented outbreak of cholera in December.

"Our concerns are that with these floods and those rains and stagnant water, there might be a second wave of cholera disease and watery disease among the population. This is also the priority - provide to those affected populations -- provide them with potable water, build latrines. All the latrines have been flooded. This is also a major concern," she said.

Byrs says priorities are for food, drinkable water and sanitation and shelter. She says the United Nations launched a $550 million appeal in November for humanitarian operations throughout Kenya in 2010.

She says nothing has been received so far. She calls this unfortunate as some of the money could be used now to help the tens of thousands of flood victims.

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