Home | News    Sunday 3 August 2003

Sudan floods leave tens of thousands homeless

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KHARTOUM, Aug 3 (AFP) — Tens of thousands of people have been left homeless in the eastern Sudanese city of Kassala in the worst floods for 70 years, state media said Sunday as an international relief effort got underway.

Declaring Kassala a "disaster" zone, Khartoum has launched a rescue appeal to provide the homeless with emergency food and shelter, in a bid to prevent epidemics from breaking out, the government newspaper Al-Anbaa reported.

Interior Minister Major General Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, chairman of the High Civil Defence Council, said Kassala needed four billion dinars (16 million US dollars) in "urgent relief".

He said 21 of the city’s 24 residential quarters were washed away when the Gash river, which flows through Kassala, broke its banks after water levels rose to their highest level in seven decades.

Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ibrahim Mahmud Hamid told Al-Anbaa that up to 70,000 families in Kassala were in urgent need of food, tents, plastic sheets, water pumps and generators.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Libya and other Arab countries have pledged to send aid to the city, following personal telephone appeals from Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, state radio reported.

The first planeloads of food and other relief supplies were expected to arrive in Kassala from the UAE and other Gulf states Sunday, the radio added.

Heavy rains also affected other parts of central Sudan. A seven-member family was killed and eight people, including four children, reported missing in the town of Kenana when their house collapsed, Al-Anbaa said.

The interior ministry warned communities along both the Nile and the Blue Nile to make contingency plans for flooding.

Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Kamal Ali Mohamed said the situation could worsen by mid-August, when even heavier rainfall was expected.

Earlier in the week, Kassala residents interviewed by state radio complained that the authorities had not acted swiftly enough to help them.

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