The threat of more flooding continues across much of Ethiopia. More than 600 people have been killed and thousands displaced by flooding rivers triggered by heavy rains.
David Overlock is the team leader for the International Federation of the Red Cross. From Addis Ababa, he gave VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua an update on the floods.
“There’s been widespread flooding across many parts of Ethiopia. I think eight out of the eleven regions have been affected. In many areas it’s still raining, even in Addis. We’ve had buildings collapse and I think there were two killed just two days ago. So, I mean it’s certainly is a concern and I think looking at the forecast there’s going to be no letup in the next few weeks,” he says.
The ICRC is providing assistance to those in need. “We’ve been out there since day one, distributing emergency stock out of our pre-positioned containers, doing first aid, providing psychological support to the victims. We currently have assessment teams both in the north and in the south. And they’re giving us daily updates of the needs. And we’re currently working through some programs for emergency distributions for something like three and a half thousand families in the north, as well as doing a countrywide health promotion intervention program in all the affected areas to target the spread of communicable diseases,” says Overlock.
The most common problems seen so far include watery diarrhea and skin and upper respiratory diseases among people in makeshift camps.
Overlock says, “Most of the search and rescue has been done in the south of Ethiopia. I think most of the people have been evacuated by helicopter and boats. And there’s something like 7,000 remaining and these people don’t want to leave for a variety of reasons. They don’t want to leave their livestock.”
How does the situation compare to past flooding? The ICRC official says, “It’s just not getting any better for these guys. Talking to all the people in the Red Cross building, who have lived here all their lives, they can’t remember anything as bad as what they’re going through now.”