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IDP News Alert, 5 September 2012

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400,000 displaced by floods sweeping across West Africa

Torrential rains have struck several West African countries during the past few weeks resulting in mass displacements throughout the region. Following a severe drought, the August floods have exacerbated an ongoing regional food security crisis.

In Niger, the government reports that 52 people were killed and nearly 400,000 displaced after heavy rains affected all seven regions of the country in what some have called the worst flooding in a century. In Niger’s capital, Niamey, floodwaters washed away mud-brick homes, and destroyed vital food crops. In Senegal, Dakar and other cities were hit mid-August by floods which have caused the death of 13 people and reportedly displaced thousands.

In neighbouring Mali, heavy rains in Ségou and Kayes regions affected close to 12,000 people. For Malian IDPs and refugees caught up in conflict , the rains have added to a complex emergency situation.

One third of Nigeria’s 36 states are expected to be affected by floods and landslides this rainy season, according to Nigeria’s disaster management agency. At least 10 people were killed and 20,000 displaced in eastern Nigeria following heavy rains and the release of a dam in neighbouring Cameroon. Another 3,000 were displaced in Nigeria’s Taraba state, where several villages wereswept away. Attributed to ineffective drainage systems, the floods have killed livestock and caused many homes to collapse in Nigeria’s worst-affected states of Yobe, Kebbi, Bauchi and Jigawa. In Plateau state, the rain has washed away roads and bridges, hampering rescue efforts.

The flooding has also increased the risk of water-borne diseases. In Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Niger, the flooding has exacerbated a cholera epidemic which has already claimed the lives of several dozen people.

For more information, visit IDMC’s Africa page

Haiti:Tropical Storm once again highlights precarious situation of post-earthquake IDPs

Tropical Storm Isaac which hit Haiti early on August 25th has brought further hardship on those who have remained internally displaced since the 2010 earthquake.

Initial assessments by the government, UN and NGOs indicate that approximately 14.000 displaced families still living in camps were affected by Isaac, mostly in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. The shelters of 6000 people were wrecked, 1005 houses destroyed and 6040 damaged, according to the civil protection authorities.

118 camps sheltering 7673 highly vulnerable households have been prioritised for assistance by the humanitarian coordination system. Over 15,000 people had to be evacuated. While humanitarian assistance to meet urgent needs is being delivered, flooding and poor sanitary conditions bring a heightened risk of cholera.

For more information, visit IDMC's page on Natural Disasters

Mali: Starving children of the Sahel are “the face of this funding shortfall”, says Amos

Valerie Amos, the United Nations Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, recently traveled to Mopti to witness firsthand the effects of the armed conflict on the lives of IDPs.

IDPs there explained to Amos how “they left their homes due to insecurity, but also because they had no money to buy food since the collapse of the economy”. With less than half of the United Nation’s financial appeal for Mali so far funded, she described the 300,000 children across the Sahel who die of malnutrition every year as “the face of this funding shortfall.”

Close to 445,000 people have been uprooted since the political crisis which erupted in January, 174,000 of whom are internally displaced. In northern Mali, some 107,000 IDPs and their host families can reportedly no longer meet their most basic needs and require urgent action. Children are particularly vulnerable to hunger, diseases and recruitment by armed groups to serve as soldiers, minesweepers, cooks or sexual slaves. While last month UNICEF reported that at least 175 children had been recruited into armed groups, other sources speak of hundreds more.

For more information, visit IDMC’s Mali page