August 26, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The European Commission (EC) said it is mobilising humanitarian aid experts to assess the needs of people affected by severe flooding in Sudan in recent weeks, adding that it stands ready to increase its humanitarian assistance in the country if needed.
In a statement released by the EU delegation to Sudan in Khartoum, the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid and civil protection, Kristalina Georgieva, expressed her sympathy to those affected by the floods.
According to the statement, EU humanitarian experts based in Khartoum have been mobilised to conduct urgent needs assessments as soon as they receive clearance from the Sudanese government to access affected areas.
The team would liaise with the EU’s humanitarian partners for the provision of relief assistance, in coordination with the Sudanese government.
“I have mobilised experts from the EU’s humanitarian aid service to urgently assess the needs on the ground as soon as access to the affected areas is possible”, Georgieva said.
“I am confident that the Government of Sudan will rapidly allow humanitarian organisations to access the affected areas. It is crucial that assessments can be carried out urgently to understand the level and type of assistance required. This will allow for the provision of much-needed relief assistance to the flood victims”, she added.
FLOOD VICTIMS ON THE RISE
According to the latest government figures, heavy rains and flash floods has affected some 530,000 people across Sudan and destroyed or damaged 74,000 homes.
The figures were cited by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its weekly humanitarian bulletin for Sudan, for the week ending 18 August.
The government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) says the figures are initial estimates only, with the numbers set to rise even further as more detailed assessments are carried out.
Khartoum is the hardest hit state in the country, with an estimated 84,000 people affected by flood waters, which also caused extensive damage to houses and infrastructure.
An inter-agency report cited by OCHA found tens of thousands of people of South Sudanese origin living in open air areas in Khartoum have also been severely affected and are said to be living in appalling conditions, according to joint assessments conducted at six sites across Khartoum state accommodating more than 9,000 people.
According to media reports, the South Sudanese embassy in Khartoum announced that 12 South Sudanese citizens living in Khartoum were killed in the recent floods.
The embassy has also drawn attention to the poor living conditions of South Sudanese flood victims, saying many people remained stranded and in need of urgent assistance.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concerns that heavy rains and floods may aggravate outbreaks of communicable diseases, particularly diarrhoea, malaria, dengue fever and Rift Valley fever.
Inconsistent chlorination, population movements, as well as poor sanitation and hygiene practices due to flooded toilets are also considered risk factors for the potential outbreak of water-borne diseases.
EUROPE SENDS HUMANITARIAN AID
The EC has provided more than €76 million for humanitarian assistance during 2012-2013.
Most EU-funded humanitarian aid projects in Sudan involve supporting emergency preparedness and response, such as training personnel and establishing contingency stocks in order to respond to disasters such as floods.
The EC says assistance can be channelled by existing projects on the ground to help to flood-affected populations.
Meanwhile, in a report on Sudan’s official state news agency (SUNA) on Sunday, foreign ministry official spokesman Abu Bakr Al-Siddig said relief funds provided by Germany to assist floods-affected had reached €700,000.
Al-Siddig told SUNA that Italy had also provided €350,000, while the Spanish Red Cross had pledged to raise funds to support 7,000 affected families in the country, as well as the provision of non-food assistance.
In addition, OCHA said the Swedish government and Swedish Red Cross had provided more than €114,000, with in-service support received from the Netherlands Red Cross.