AFRICA/KENYA - AT LEAST 20,000 HOMELESS AS TORRENTIAL RAINS CONTINUE: WEAKENED BY DROUGHT AND A FOOD CRISIS PEOPLE NOW FACE FLOODS

Friday, 9 May 2003

Nairobi (Fides Service) – There is no let up in the torrential rains which have been causing havoc in Kenya since the end of April. “The worst situation is in Baringo district in north Kenya” writers for CISA Catholic News Agency in Nairobi tell Fides Service. “This region had already been affected by severe drought and an ensuing serious food shortage. So the situation was already serious from the humanitarian point of view when the floods came. Heavy rains are causing widespread damage to a farming system already suffering from drought” say the local sources.
In Baringo the rains which show no sign of stopping caused the death of two persons, the complete destruction of cultivated fields and the death of most of the animals.
The Kenyan government has mobilised the armed forces to provide relief assistance to the stricken people as the first convoys of UN humanitarian aid begin to arrive. Rescue work is hampered by persistent bad weather conditions. “This is why it is still not possible to have exact numbers for the victims and the homeless” say CISA writers. According to a report by the United Nations the worst hit areas are west Kenya and along the river Tana where at least 20,000 people have lost their homes in the floods.
Particularly difficult the situation in refugee camps in the north-west where thousands have taken shelter from conflicts in neighbouring countries, especially Somalia and Burundi.
Ethiopia is also affected by torrential rain, mainly in the south, where people have lived the same disastrous situations of drought, food crisis and now floods. According to the Ethiopian government at least 40 people are reported dead and about 96,000 have been forced to abandon their homes along the border with Somalia where the River Shebelle overflowed its banks. LM (Fides Service 9/5/2003 EM lines 30 Words: 342)


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