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UN, IRC Step Up Emergency Aid to Flood-Devasted Sudan

A boy wades through a flooded street in the area of al-Qamayir in the capital's twin city of Omdurman, Sudan, Aug. 26, 2020.
A boy wades through a flooded street in the area of al-Qamayir in the capital's twin city of Omdurman, Sudan, Aug. 26, 2020.

U.N. and international agencies are stepping up emergency operations in response to deadly flooding in Sudan, which has left hundreds of thousands homeless

Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission says more than half-a-million people have been affected by the worst flooding in the country in at least 100 years. It expects the number of people needing help to reach 750,000.

The commission reports dozens of people have lost their lives, more than 100,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged, agricultural land is under water and unusable and thousands of livestock have been killed.

The International Red Cross Federation calls the magnitude of the flooding disaster unprecedented. It says teams of Red Crescent volunteers are helping people move to higher ground. The organization is appealing for $12 million to provide emergency shelter, safe drinking water, food and other essential needs for at least 200,000 of the most vulnerable people.

And the World Health Organization warns of an outbreak of water-borne and vector-borne diseases, such as dengue, chikungunya, malaria, and measles. WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib says the U.N. body has delivered supplies to prevent and control those diseases. She told VOA that the WHO also is taking measures to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We have sent diagnostic tests, laboratory equipment. We have helped in training technicians and doctors to recognize symptoms on COVID and how to help patients. We have also disseminated a lot of information including in the language of Sudan, Arabic,” Chaib said.

The World Health Organization reports at least 13,439 coronavirus cases, including 833 deaths in Sudan. Chaib said the country’s health system suffers from years of underfunding, staff shortages, lack of equipment, medicine and supplies. She said the WHO is working to fill in the gap.

The Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs oversees humanitarian operations by aid agencies. It also manages the Sudan Humanitarian Fund, a country-based fund to which donors contribute money to carry out the of flood-related programs.