Kenya floods could hit 750,000 people

November 6, 2009 12:00 am

, GENEVA, Nov 6 – The United Nations warned on Friday that up to three quarters of a million people could be hit by floods and landslides brought about by torrential rainfall in Kenya.

"There are fears that up to 750,000 people in Kenya may be affected by flooding and landslides from the enhanced rains caused by El Nino weather phenomenon between October and December," said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"The rains usually peak in November," she added.

Six people have been killed in floods and landslides from recent downpours, and another 4,600 people along the Indian Ocean coast and northeastern region of Kenya have been displaced.

Byrs said the Kenyan government and aid agencies have stocks of food, water purification tablets and mosquito nets and other contingencies in place.

However, "tents are lacking, as well as shelter for these people," she added.

"The flooding has brought about interruptions in the delivery of humanitarian aid, including those for refugees," said Byrs.

Among those hit are some 338,000 refugees in two camps in Kenya, said UN refugee agency spokesman Andrej Mahecic.

Mahecic said the office of the UN High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) needed 2.8 million dollars to secure fuel, blankets, plastic sheets as well as to fund disease outbreaks.

"We fear the looming El Nino phenomenon …. may now threaten the 338,000 mostly Somali refugees in the two camps, which in any case usually are flooded for three months every year," he said.

Mahecic said the agency had begun digging trenches and placing sandbags around hospitals and other key locations in the camps.

"We are also preparing to locate to higher ground within the camps refugees who might be worst affected by the floods, particularly the chronically ill, disabled people, the elderly and children and teenagers on their own," he added.

Asked why the camps were constructed in flood-prone areas, Mahecic said the land was given by the government. "There is very little choice on where you can put a camp," he added.


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