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Khartoum's roadside refugees call for help after floods
by Staff Writers
Khartoum (AFP) Aug 15, 2013

Egypt joins aid effort for Sudan flood victims
Khartoum (AFP) Aug 14, 2013 - Egyptian military planes landed in Khartoum on Wednesday as part of a regional aid effort for victims of flooding in Sudan this month that claimed dozens of lives.

The five cargo aircraft brought in blankets, emergency sheeting material and tents, an AFP photographer said.

About 30 people have been killed and more than 84,000 affected by the worst floods in years to hit the Khartoum state region, according to figures cited by the United Nations.

Heavy rains that began on August 1 also affected tens of thousands of people in several other states, but Khartoum was the hardest-hit, the UN said.

Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamed said the flooding had killed 53 people around the country.

A total of 40,000 families, or about 200,000 people, have been affected, he said, quoted by the Sudanese Media Centre, which is close to the security apparatus, without giving a separate breakdown for the capital region.

Egypt was the latest regional nation to send relief this week.

Qatar dispatched two flights with more than 80 tonnes of medicines, water pumps, tents and other assistance, the official SUNA news agency reported.

It said an Ethiopian cargo plane arrived on Tuesday with more than 70 tonnes of aid.

Separately, at a ceremony on Monday, Japan handed over more than $160,000 (120,300 euros) worth of tents, water purifiers and other emergency relief, Tokyo's embassy said.

The US embassy said it was providing $50,000 in additional aid to support the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The UN's World Health Organisation, meanwhile, said the "flood and its consequences are anticipated to worsen."

House flies and mosquitoes have been seen in "high density" over the past two weeks in Khartoum, Red Sea and North Darfur states, it warned, adding that almost 31,000 latrines had been destroyed by the floods.

It looks as if an earthquake, not a flood, hit the Khartoum district of Sharq ElNeel.

Heavy roofs have collapsed in on themselves, crushing what was below, while the bricks in less sturdy homes have simply tumbled down, forming piles of rubble.

Two weeks after the worst flooding in years hit Sudan's capital region, killing about 30 and affecting more than 84,000, ankle-deep muddy water still covers this district east of the Blue Nile river.

Sharq ElNeel is one of the worst-hit areas.

"Now this street is my home," says Jamaal Hamad, one of dozens of roadside refugees who have set up camp in this mixed residential and farming area.

They have carried beds through the water, attached pieces of wood and cloth, and built crude shelters next to the busy two-lane paved street.

"Our house was destroyed and we live under the sun now. We even lost all our furniture," says Ali Mohammed, a labourer who earns 600 pounds a month (about $84, 63 euros).

"So I cannot save money for rebuilding. We really need help from the government and others," he says.

Another labourer, Ajab Mohammed Ali, says the heavy rains which began on August 1 even swept away the donkey cart on which his livelihood depended.

The donkey survived.

Some of the animals wait near the beds of their owners, oblivious to passing traffic.

"The clothes you see me wearing are what I had on the day of the disaster," says another displaced man, Mohammed Nayeem Adam.

He had come to get drinking water dispensed from a cube-shaped tank by two young men.

Adam said he would carry it back through the mud to the remains of his home, where his family still stayed.

"They cannot come out because of the mud and water," Adam explained.

On the other side of the street, Ali Ahmed Idris extends a mud-caked hand in greeting.

"Be careful," he says, dressed in a traditional white jalabiya robe and pointing to a pile of sticks lying flat in the mud. "That was the toilet."

He, too, is living beside the road but has returned to the rubble of his nearby home to see what could be salvaged.

It seems that only a door, decorated in yellow and blue, is still standing.

"I lost my goats," says Idris, a labourer, as another man digs into the earth with a shovel.

One newly-homeless man said the floods were a test "from God".

But help has started to arrive for those affected.

The displaced said the Sudanese Red Crescent Society and other non-governmental groups have given them plastic sheeting and deliver some food each day.

Two white Red Crescent tents were seen farther along the road, near a traffic jam caused by crews digging and repairing electricity pylons.

A van arrived with bread, and a few army officers also visited the displaced. Two boats sat in the mud while, farther away, the opposition Umma party readied a pair of aid trucks.

In another part of Khartoum relatively untouched by flooding, volunteers crowded the offices of Nafeer, a youth group which came together to assist people in Sharq ElNeel and other badly affected communities.

"Of course, we cannot meet all the needs of Khartoum state but we are filling some gaps," says Muaz Ibrahim, a doctor and one of about 2,000 volunteers with Nafeer.

He said local and expatriate Sudanese have donated food, clothing, mosquito nets and cash for the flood victims.

Nafeer's storeroom is filled with drinking water and coloured plastic food bags, each with packages of flour, noodles, biscuits and sugar -- enough to feed 10 people for one day, Nafeer says.

But with fears of more rain, the roadside refugees say they have not yet received enough help to deal with the losses they have already suffered.

"If it rains we don't know what we will do," said Aljna Ahmad Osman.

"We need urgent help, from the government or from anyone," says another woman, Aisha Mohammed Al-Tayeb.


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