Benin: UN activates humanitarian response as heavy floods take toll

United Nations humanitarian agencies operating in Benin are conducting rapid assessments to determine how they can best assist the thousands of people caught up in the heavy floods that have struck the West African country.

At least 20,000 people are estimated to have been displaced or otherwise affected by the floods, with the area around Cotonou, the commercial capital, and along the entire southern coastline among the hardest hit regions.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today that it has deployed emergency staff to Benin to ensure that priority needs in health, shelter and water and sanitation are being met.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) are all taking part in preliminary assessments to ascertain the most immediate needs of the population.

Benin is beset by flooding almost every year at this time because of the annual rainy season. But this year's inundations have been so severe this year that the Government has imposed a state of emergency.