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Cameroon, Chad Say Border River Floods Displace 100,000

FILE - The village of Blaram on the Logone river is seen during normal water levels, at the Cameroon-Chad border, March 1, 2013. Recent flooding has devastated the region.
FILE - The village of Blaram on the Logone river is seen during normal water levels, at the Cameroon-Chad border, March 1, 2013. Recent flooding has devastated the region.

Officials in Cameroon and Chad say heavy rainfall this week caused the Logone river, which forms their border, to overflow, displacing more than 100,000 people and leaving 70,000 homeless. Cameroonian officials brought assistance to flood victims, who say more help is needed.

Tandembe Noah, a thirty-three-year-old farmer in Guizi, a village near Cameroon’s border with Chad, says his wife and three children have been hungry for a week since heavy floods swept away millet, maize and 13 goats from their family food store.

Noah, who was interviewed by Cameroon state broadcaster CRTV as heavy rain fell, said the downpour has forced many people to flee to neighboring villages, where they expect to find safety. He said he prefers to stay and die in Guizi, where he and his forefathers were born.

Cameroon’s government says Noah is one of over 43,000 people threatened by waters from nearby Lake Maga and the Logone river on the border with Chad.

Government officials say heavy rainfall this week has caused both to overflow their banks and sweep away houses, crops and animals.

At least 12 people have died in the floods, and the government says hunger looms as water has ruined several hundred hectares of rice fields.

Paul Atanga Nji, Cameroon’s territorial administration minister, said the president dispatched him to lead a delegation to provide food and blankets to 43,000 flood victims.

"President Paul Biya instructed us that we should bring back a clear picture of what is on the field with suggestions so that the government can put in place proper mechanisms to avoid the floods,” he said. “The take-home message is that we have to be proactive, project what will be the challenges in the future and [determine] how prepared are we, the government, to tackle floods in the future.”

Some civilians say they want the government to help rebuild their houses. Nji promised to channel flood victims' grievances to Biya.

Meanwhile, Chad's public broadcaster, Tele Tchad, said on Thursday that water from the Logone river displaced more than 60,000 people in Chad's capital, N'Djamena, this week.It said tens of thousands of people have been rendered homeless and are in dire need of food and humanitarian supplies.

Simon Pierre Madou, a Roman Catholic priest in N'Djamena, said several hundred displaced persons are seeking refuge in local Catholic churches.

Speaking Friday to Radio France International, Madou said Chad's government either neglected or failed to anticipate the floods. He said when he sounded an alarm that water was rising in the Logone river and threatening civilians, plantations, houses and animals, Chad's officials said they were preoccupied with a national dialogue the government organized among civilians, armed opposition groups and the ruling junta. He said the consequences of the floods are now difficult for the government to handle, as tens of thousands of people need emergency assistance.

VOA could not independently verify if Chad's government neglected warning signs of the floods as Madou claimed.

Last month, Chad said the heaviest seasonal rainfall in its territory in over 30 years left parts of N'Djamena navigable only by boat and forced tens of thousands to flee their flooded homes.

Cameroon and Chad both blame climate change for the unusually heavy rain and flooding.