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October 12, 10

NEWS / Some 1.5 million people hit by floods in West and Central Africa, UN reports

12 October 2010 Ė Nearly 1.5 million people have been affected by floods and 377 killed in Western and Central Africa, with Chad, Northern Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria facing a serious cholera epidemic, United Nations relief officials reported today.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos is due to begin a four-day visit to Nigeria and Niger tomorrow to meet with relief organizations and local authorities as they battle the heavy flooding caused by torrential rains and exceptionally high water levels of the Niger and other rivers.

Benin has been hardest hit, with 360,000 people affected and 42 deaths, followed by Nigeria with 300,000 victims and 118 deaths, the spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Elisabeth Byrs, told a news briefing in Geneva.

The Benin Government declared the country a disaster area and has appealed for international aid, and a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team will probably leave for the West African country tomorrow.

Among other countries affected by the floods are Niger with some 227,000 victims, Chad with nearly 145,000, and Burkina Faso with over 105,000. Burkina Faso has launched a $14 million emergency plan and has received $2 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

The UN Childrenís Fund (UNICEF) and its partners have already scaled up their activities in Chad, which is facing one of its worst cholera epidemics in 10 years, with nearly 2,600 cases and 112 deaths reported as of the start of the month. Cholera kits have been donated to hospitals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and technical assistance provided to the health ministry.




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