On August 15th, a strong storm accompanied by heavy rains hit Laayoune Camp, one of the 5 Sahrawi refugees’ camps near the city of Tindouf in South-Western Algeria. The storm affected the refugee population, of which 70-80% are children and women. 11 people were injured by collapsing houses and taken to hospital.
UN agencies led by UNHCR conducted a rapid assessment on 16-17 August, in collaboration with the NGOs, and coordinated with the Sahrawi Red Crescent.
The preliminary results of the assessment indicate the following major impacts:
• Shelter, with destruction of mud-houses (400 families affected, estimated 2 000 people of whom 1 200 children);
• Education, with damage to schools (6 out 8 schools partially destroyed, 5 300 children affected);
• WASH, with damage to the main water tower;
• Health, with three health centers partially damaged and closed.
While UNHCR is responsible for the overall coordination, UNICEF is cochairing the emergency education coordination mechanism. This situation is happening as UNICEF and NGO partners are completing rehabilitation of schools damaged during the October 2015 flash floods. UNICEF and partners are currently determining funding requirements for the rehabilitation of damaged schools while concurrently identifying practical solutions to facilitate the return to school by its pre-planned start date of 7 September.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
A strong storm accompanied by heavy rains hit Laayoune Camp on 15 August, one of the 5 Sahrawi refugees’ camps near Tindouf. The refugee community and the Sahrawi Red Crescent reported that 11 refugees were injured. 6 were evacuated to Tindouf Regional Hospital to receive appropriate medical care. According to the same sources, damages were registered in shelter, tents and public infrastructures.
The UNHCR immediately launched – on 16 August 2016 - an emergency needs assessment undertaken in coordination with the Sahrawi Red Crescent along with WFP, UNICEF and NGOs operating in the camps. The assessment focused on the most affected areas located in the 3 districts (dairas) of Dawra, Bukraa and Dchira in Laayoun camp.
From the preliminary results of the joint rapid assessment, humanitarian needs are:
• Shelter for 400 families (circa 2000) who lost their houses;
• Supplementary food rations for affected families;
• Emergency water distribution for families affected by the damaged water distribution system;
• Information for prevention of health hazards from contact with contaminated(stagnating) water, and provision of adequate health services by providers;
• Immediate as well as more sustainable solutions for children so they can go back to school.
Response to date by humanitarian actors:
• UNICEF with education authorities and NGO partners are engaging plans and calculating the cost of school rehabilitation, while looking for concrete practical solutions so children do not miss the beginning of the school-year on 7 September
• In addition to coordinating relief, the Sahrawi Red Crescent is providing rescue services to affected families.
• WFP issued an emergency distribution of 14 tons of mixed commodities to replace the partially lost august food rations, and cover the basic food needs of 2,000 refugees.
• UNHCR engaged in the repair of the main water tower in Laayoun camp and provided sufficient water to cover the needs of the population while repairs are ongoing.
• Medecins Du Monde (MDM) and health authorities are sensitizing children and families on dangers and health hazards associated with contaminated water.
• Tindouf Civil Protection began pumping out contaminated water ponds left by the floods.