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Congo Brazzaville: Thousands in need of assistance after floods wreak havoc

People that have been deported from Congo's capital Brazzaville, seen in background, arrive by river boat   -  
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John Bompengo/AP

Republic of the Congo

Jens Laerke, for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), today (19 Jan) told reporters in Geneva that in the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville), the United Nations was responding to a flood disaster, “unprecedented in scale for six decades,” and with hundreds of thousands of people in need of humanitarian assistance.

Extreme rainfall since October 2023 had led the banks around the Ubangi River - a tributary to the Congo river - to burst. A flood emergency had been officially declared by the Government on 29 December. Some three weeks later, nine out of the country's 12 departments remained under water and a total of 1.8 million people were affected.

Laerke specified that more than 350,000 people urgently needed humanitarian assistance, but said, access was a challenge as “many villages could only be reached by boat or canoe.”

UN agencies have developed a response plan with the Government with a total budget of some USD 26 million. Priority sectors, Laerke said, included “shelter, food security, nutrition, health, and water, sanitation, and hygiene.”

To support the initial response, an allocation of USD 3.6 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund has been made to address the most pressing needs of 270,000 people. However, Larke said, to implement the response, more international funding would be needed as “he floods could also have longer term consequences.”

Clare Nullis, for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), informed that Jean Bienvenu Dinga of the Congo Hydrological Service said this was “the most exceptional event” since the catastrophic floods in 1961, when there had been a measured discharge of 80,000 cubic meters per second. On 9 January 2024, she noted, “the discharge had reached 75,000 cubic meters per second.”

The official death toll as of now stood as 23, while over 6,000 people were displaced.

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