Tens of thousands displaced by flooding after a rare tropical storm hits Yemen

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NEW YORK, USA, 5 November 2008 - Up to 300,000 people have been affected by flooding in Yemen following a rare tropical storm there.

UNICEF estimates that 68 people are dead and nearly 3,300 households destroyed in the floods. About 25,000 people have been forced to take refuge in shelters. Hadhramout and Al-Mahrah Governorates are the worst affected.

UNICEF Representative in Yemen Aboudou Karimou Adjibadé said there has been extensive damage to houses, land, livestock and crops, and families are trying to salvage belongings from the wreckage of their former homes.

"This is an emergency situation that needs an immediate response from the international community," he asserted.

Region unused to flooding

UNICEF and its partners are rushing emergency aid - including water tanks, jerry cans (to carry potable water), sanitation supplies and blankets.

Mr. Adjibadé, who attributed the rare storm to the effects of climate change, said much of the damage was done because the region is unused to flooding; its houses are constructed of mud, which washed away in the deluge. Yemen seldom gets more than a few inches of rain a year.

"This kind of tropical storm has not hit Yemen for almost 600 years. It is something very unusual," he said.