U.N., partners launch appeal for flood-ravaged Benin

08:01, November 04, 2010      

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The United Nations, its humanitarian partners and the government of Benin on Wednesday launched a joint 47-million-U.S. dollar emergency appeal for flood-ravaged Benin.

The money was needed to help nearly 800,000 people in the West African nation, which is experiencing the worst flooding in a century, U.N. officials said here.

More than 680,000 people in 55 of the country's 77 municipalities have been affected by the flooding, with more than 105,000 people having lost their homes, the officials said.

These numbers are expected to rise as the rains, which began in mid-September, are forecast to continue through this month in Benin, which was already suffering a food crisis before the flooding began.

The waters have severely damaged schools, hospitals and infrastructure, with 128,000 hectares of farmland having been ruined and 12,000 metric tons of food stocks having been lost, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"The loss of homes, livestock, clothing, agricultural tools and seeds will have devastating and long-lasting effects for many people and that is why, with the government of Benin, we have launched this appeal for urgent assistance," said Valerie Amos, U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

About one million people out of the country's 9 million-strong population were already experiencing food insecurity, while more than one third of children under the age of five were chronically malnourished before the start of the flooding.

On top of food, immediate needs include clean drinking water, hygiene promotion and adequate shelter, while mosquito nets were urgently needed to curb the spread of malaria.

The Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan (EHAP) will target 250,000 people with food assistance and agricultural support, as well as aiming to reach 680,000 people with health care and improved access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which provides resources rapidly to assist people affected by natural disasters and conflicts, has approved 4 million dollars to kick-start the emergency response.

U.N. agencies -- including the World Food Program, the U.N. Children's Fund and the World Health Organization -- and humanitarian organizations continue to rush critical relief to Benin.

According to OCHA, more than 1.8 million people have been affected by floods in Central and West Africa this year.

Source: Xinhua


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