Kenya/Uganda/Zambia

Thousands of Africans flee deadly floods and storms

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (C) visits  survivors of Monday's landslide in Bududa
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (C) visits survivors of Monday's landslide in Bududa Reuters

Torrential rains have hit eastern, central and southern Africa, driving millions from their homes, destroying property and livestock and costing hundreds of lives.

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In Kenya floods have killed at least seven people and left dozens missing. Entire herds of cattle have been washed away.

The heavy downpour has drenched some of the country’s most visited natural parks, leaving hundreds homeless and forcing the authorities to use helicopters to evacuate tourists.

Officials say hundreds of houses remain submerged in the Garbatula region of Eastern Province.

Comment: Titus Mong'ou, head of communications for the Kenya Red Cross Society

But the situation is not as disastrous as during the first two months of this year, aid workers say.

“With displacement we’d be talking of less than 2,000 households at the moment,” says Titus Mong'ou of the Kenya Red Cross Society which is involved in emergency response. “It is not as the case in February, January, where over 25,000 to close to 50,000 people were affected.”

The south and west of the country are still threatened by floods, he says.

Tanzania and Somalia have also been hit by the storms.

In eastern Uganda, where some 300 people are feared dead following Monday’s mudslide, fewer than 90 bodies have been retrieved and continuing rain complicates the rescue operation.

Ugandan authorities have moved thousands of villagers away from surrounding mountains, with health officials warning of the risk of cholera and malaria outbreaks.

“The relocation process started today [Saturday] with 4,000 people being moved into makeshift camps up to ten kilometres away from the site …,” correspondent Patricia Okoed reports. “A total of 35,000 people will eventually be moved to similar camps after the government issued an alert warning of more harsh conditions until May.”

In Zambia, heavy rains have destroyed homes and displaced tens of thousands, with many rivers bursting their banks and destroying roads. Some areas are now cut off from the rest of the country.

More than 100,000 families have been displaced, correspondent Kathy Sikombé reports. Lowlying areas of the capital, Lusaka, have been seriously affected.

“But it is high-density townships that have been a source of concern, because this is where issues of compromised sanitation raise the risk of waterborn diseases like cholera,” she told RFI.

The authorities have temporarily suspended relocation to concentrate on hygiene for those who have been moved but are most at risk from illness, she reports.
 

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