Africa

Benin: UN to send thousands of tents amid major floods

  • 24 October 2010
  • From the section Africa
Benin flood victim
Two-thirds of the country is under water

The UN refugee agency is to start an emergency airlift of tents to the West African nation of Benin this week, amid the worst flooding there in decades.

Some 3,000 tents will be flown in from Denmark to provide shelter for some of the estimated 680,000 people affected.

Two-thirds of Benin has suffered from months of heavy rain, and about 800 cases of cholera have been reported.

It is the worst flooding to hit the country - one of the poorest in the world - since 1963.

Areas previously thought not to be vulnerable to flooding have been devastated and villages wiped out.

"There are huge areas that are covered in water so people are living on the tops of their houses, because people try to stay near their homes," Helen Kawkins of the Care aid agency told the BBC.

The flooding has sparked major health concerns, with drinking and bathing water contaminated by human waste which has overflowed from latrines.

The number of cases of cholera are rising daily, with more than 50 reported in the largest city, Cotonou, alone, Care says. Dozens of people have died as a result of the flooding in the past few weeks, officials say.

People who have lost their homes have sought shelter in medical facilities, putting pressure on the country's health system.

The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) says an appeal for funds and aid is being planned.

The rain is continuing to deluge Benin and forecasters say there is no sign yet of it abating.

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