Madagascar

Madagascar: Airlift for flood victims begins

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JOHANNESBURG, 9 March (IRIN) - An airlift of WFP emergency food rations for tens of thousands of people trapped by floodwaters in Madagascar is scheduled to get underway on Friday.
WFP spokesman Francis Mwanza told IRIN on Thursday that many of the worst affected areas in the giant Indian ocean island 400 km off the Mozambique coast, swept by cyclone Eline last month and cyclone Gloria last week, were "extremely remote".

UN officials in the Malagasy capital, Antananarivo, told IRIN this week that over 600,000 people had been affected by the floods. News reports quoting eyewitnesses said they had seen the bodies of dead lemurs and other debris floating in the floodwaters of a country home to rare animal species found nowhere else in the world.

Following a government appeal this week for emergency relief, WFP said it would dispatch by helicopter, 25 mt of emergency rations consisting of rice, beans and sugar to some 30,000 people in the east coast town of Mahanoro, one of the areas worst affected by floods. Mwanza said WFP will deliver another 375 mt in the next few days to other areas damaged by the two cyclones. These include the northeast coastal town of Antalaha, Vatomandry further south and the west coast town of Belo-Tsiribihina.

"If additional needs are identified, WFP stands ready to respond," he said.

Amid growing concerns in the humanitarian community of an increase in cholera cases following the floods, WHO said in a statement on Thursday that between 1 December 1999 and 3 March, a total of 12,481 cases of cholera with 736 deaths was reported. Those figures compared with a total of 8,665 cases and 490 deaths during the period March to November 1999.

"WHO has continued to provide technical support with other partners and is standing by to provide further assistance immediately if requested by the health authorities of Madagascar," the statement said.

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