UN Humanitarian chief visits flooded areas in Benin, calls for more integrated approach to crises
(Cotonou/Geneva/New York, 20 October 2012) We have to change the way we deal with humanitarian crises and support governments to improve preparedness and increase the capacities and coping mechanisms of communities and households faced with floods, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, said on Friday in Cotonou.
Visiting Benin at the invitation of President Dr Boni Yayi following severe flooding in the country, Ms Amos travelled to the lower Ouémé valley, where more than 2,000 people were displaced by floods in September. She heard the stories of people who had been forced to flee their homes and seek temporary shelter with other families, and spoke to children who had missed weeks of education because their school was flooded.
“Humanitarian and development partners must support the efforts of the authorities to inform people better, so they are able to cope with the consequences of climate change,” said Ms. Amos. “We cannot prevent floods, but we can make sure that people know about the consequences.”
In 2010, more than 1.7 million people were affected by floods in West Africa, 700,000 of them in Benin. This year, more than 3 million people have been affected by floods in West and Central Africa, including 500,000 in Niger and 1.4 million in Nigeria. Dozens have died in both countries. The rise of the River Niger has also affected more than 55,000 people in the north of Benin.
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