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Thousands Affected by Heavy Flooding in Kenya

U.N. aid agencies are working with the Kenyan Red Cross to bring emergency relief to thousands of victims of severe flooding in Kenya. Heavy rainfall this month, at the onset of the rainy season, has caused particular hardship in at least nine districts in northern, northeastern and western parts of Kenya.

The rainy season is expected to last at least through June. The United Nations estimates around 10,000 people have been affected. But, it says this number is likely to rise during the ongoing rains.

Spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Elizabeth Byrs, tells VOA the damage caused by the flooding has been extensive. And, she says fears are rising of water-borne diseases from the contaminated water.

"Not only the people have been affected, but also the cattle. Hundreds of heads of livestock have drowned. Sheep, goats have gone missing. And, also dozens of houses, business stores have been flooded," she said.

Byrs says the floods have washed away much of the food stocks, causing prices to rise. She says the main needs are for food, shelter, water purification tablets and latrines.

She says the Kenyan Red Cross has been very quick in responding to the emergency and has already distributed some food, blankets and other supplies. She says the Red Cross is working in partnership with U.N. and other aid agencies to brief relief to the flood victims.

"The main concern is that most of the roads are blocked… and 20 bridges have been damaged. That is why problems, difficulties in delivering assistance is a problem we must solve as soon as possible to allow all the relief agencies and their partner NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to deliver assistance to the most affected populations," he said.

So far, Byrs says the situation is under control. But, she says this could change. She says the meteorological services are forecasting the heavy rains might go on well beyond the normal rainy season.

Should this happen, she says it is likely the United Nations will issue an appeal to respond to the worsening disaster.