Comoros: Aid workers arrive as emergency declared

30 Apr 2012

26 April 2012, Comoros: Torrential rains and flash floods since April 20 have significantly affected water supply, electricity and telecommunications services in Comoros. Credit: OCHA
OCHA and humanitarian partners respond to flooding emergency in the Comoros Islands

OCHA, UNICEF and the World Food Programme have sent emergency support to the Comoros Islands, where the Government has declared a State of Emergency following heavy rains and flash flooding.

The islands, which lie between Madagascar and Mozambique, have been battered by torrential rains since 20 April, causing heavy floods, landslides and rockslides.

According to a joint assessment by the Comoros Government and humanitarian agencies, nearly 50,000 people have been affected by the rains, including more than 9,000 who were forced to leave their homes. Access to affected villages is limited due to landslides and floods, and it is likely that more people have been displaced in those villages. Electricity supplies and telephone lines have been cut and communications have been severely affected.

A seven-member UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team from OCHA has arrived in Comoros and will be supported by operational partners from MapAction, the International Humanitarian Partnership and the European Union Civil Protection Team.  They will support UN agencies, national authorities and other responders in finding out what is needed to help people in the disaster-stricken areas of the three islands.

The priorities for emergency aid are providing families with shelter and restoring the water supply on Grande Comore, where the main water pump has been flooded. The Comoros Government and UNICEF will distribute chlorine for water purification. There are also concerns that the rains and standing water will lead to an increase in mosquito-breeding sites, making it even more important to drain flooded areas. The Government has distributed some food, but lack of access to the affected areas is a serious hindrance.

In the long term, soil erosion caused by floods and landslides could affect the fertility and productivity of agricultural land in Moheli and Anjouan.

The Comoros meteorological service has warned that the rains are expected to continue. 

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