Niger floods cause widespread devastation

Flooding in Niamey The River Niger burst its banks last week, flooding parts of the country

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Heavy flooding in Niger over the past few weeks has killed up to 65 people and left 125,000 homeless.

After appeals from the country's president for international aid, the first supplies, donated by Ireland to Plan International, have now arrived.

The southern Dosso region has been worst affected, with over 10,000 homes destroyed according to the UN.

The capital Niamey was also hit when the River Niger burst its banks, flooding the city's suburbs.

Plan International's Niger director Rheal Drisdalle said on 18-19 August, the river reached levels "not seen since the 1920s".

"As the river has not been this high for a very, very long time, people had built their houses near to the river - and then all the rice paddies along the river have been flooded," he told the BBC.

At last count, the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the floods have destroyed 14,000 homes and 7,000 fields of cereal crops across the country.

The West African country is already suffering from severe food shortages caused by recent drought.

President Mahamadou Issou pledged 1,400 tonnes of food and 900,000 euros (£712,443) in aid for people affected by the flooding, but admitted that it would not be enough and called for international help.

The first international aid - 35 tonnes of supplies on a plane chartered by Ireland - arrived on Sunday.

Mr Drisdalle said the United Nations and other aid agencies were trying to raise funds to send further supplies.

Other West African countries have also experienced higher than average rainfall and flooding this season, including Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Ghana.

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