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54 Dead, Tens of Thousands Displaced in Heavy Sudan Flooding

FILE - Displaced people carry their belongings to relocate to dryer areas following flooding caused by heavy rains, Nyala, Sudan, June 3, 2017. Parts of the country have been reeling from fresh floods over the past two months.

The United Nations reports nearly two months of heavy rains and flooding in Sudan have wiped out livelihoods, rendered tens of thousands of people homeless and created a humanitarian emergency that needs a swift international response.

At least 54 people are known to have died from the torrential rains that have hit Sudan since the beginning of July. Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission reports nearly 194,000 people have been affected and more than 37,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports 15 of Sudan’s 18 states have been affected, with White Nile state taking the biggest hit.

OCHA spokesman, Jens Laerke, said flood victims urgently need emergency shelter, food, health services, and clean water and sanitation. He says vector control to limit the spread of water-borne diseases by insects is crucial.

“In many places families have lost their livestock which may aggravate already rising food insecurity. Across Sudan, the number of severely food-insecure people rose to an estimated 5.8 million at the beginning of the lean season in July this year, an increase of more than two million compared with the start of the 2018 season,” Laerke said.

Laerke said many homeless people are living with family and friends. Others are seeking shelter in schools and other public places. He told VOA the government is responding as best it can by providing tents, sheeting and emergency shelter.

“There has been political turbulence in Sudan of late. I also mentioned that the government has maintained its coordination of the response. It is the government’s humanitarian aid commission that is leading the so-called flood task force, which is co-chaired by OCHA,” Laerke said.

The United Nations has appealed for $1.1 billion for humanitarian aid for Sudan this year. Donors have provided just 30 percent of that amount. The U.N. estimates it will need an additional $150 million to respond to the most urgent flood needs.

If that money is not provided, Laerke said funds will have to be re-directed from one place or activity to another to meet immediate emergency needs. He warned shifting money around in this manner has a negative impact on humanitarian operations as a whole.