Red Cross Red Crescent steps up efforts as storm floods hit Djibouti

Forty volunteers of the Djibouti Red Crescent providing assistance victims of this week's storms and floods will soon be joined by a specialised international assessment team, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said today.
"We are using resources from our Disaster Relief Emergency Fund as a first response measure and are putting up a team to help identify the most pressing needs among the flood victims and to purchase and airlift non-food relief items," said Steve Penny, the Federation's regional disaster management co-ordinator.

Initially cut off in many parts of the city, electricity supply has now been restored to serve about 50 per cent of the population in the city of Djibouti. The capital and surrounding areas have been badly affected by torrential rain, high winds and flash floods, with many homes being washed away. After an almost total four-day communications blackout, contacts were re-established with the Djibouti Red Crescent yesterday.

"So far the storm had claimed the lives of 50 people but as many as one hundred more are missing and feared dead," said Abdourahman Chamsan Saleh, Secretary General of the Djibouti Red Crescent. Meanwhile 1,500 people were evacuated to safety by the Djibouti military, with the assistance of US and French military helicopters.

Additionally, 5,000 affected people have been able to return to their homes. According to the Djibouti Red Crescent, in contact with national authorities, around 10,000 people had lost shelter and property. Fears were expressed that up to 100,000 people may be affected. Much of the population lives in basic housing and is very vulnerable to torrential rains and high winds. The Red Crescent says that tarpaulins, kitchen sets, jerry cans and blankets as well as water purification tablets are the most urgently required relief articles.

Only 40 per cent of the urban water supply is presently functioning, and there are growing health concerns, given that Djibouti is prone to cholera and malaria.

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

In Nairobi:

Andreï Neacsu, Regional Information Delegate Tel: + 254 20 271 14 43 / Mobile: + 254 733 632 943

In Geneva:

Roy Probert, Information Officer Tel. + 41 22 730 42 96 / + 41 79 217 33 86

Media Service Duty Phone Tel. + 41 79 416 38 81

The Geneva-based International Federation promotes the humanitarian activities of 181 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies among vulnerable people. By coordinating international disaster relief and encouraging development support, it seeks to prevent and alleviate human suffering. The Federation, National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together, constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.