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Burundi: Authorities relocate families displaced by widespread flooding

For illustration -- A child walks through an area after a river broke through a blocked tunnel causing floodwaters in the Mai Mahiu area of Nakuru County, Kenya, Monday, April   -  
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Patrick Ngugi/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Deadly floods are wreaking havoc in many parts of East Africa with Burundi calling for international help to deal with the aftermath of torrential rainfall.

Over the weekend, the country's government began the voluntary relocation of approximately 2000 families displaced by the flooding, moving them to shelters on higher ground.

"We thought the state had abandoned us. Thank goodness for that slight improvement, to have a place to rest," said Ndaba Minani who says he has been displaced by floods for the past four years with a leg injury that has left him disabled.

Displaced families boarded buses provided by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and moved from the shores of Gutumba in the west of the country near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo to Matyazo, some 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the economic capital, Bujumbura.

The relocation is mired with logistical challenges, including a shortage of materials used for makeshift shelters to house displaced families.

Lake Tanganyika’s rising waters have flooded various parts of the country including Bujumbura, disrupting business there and elsewhere in the country that relies heavily on donor support to run government programs.

The Boulevard du Japon, a major highway in Bujumbura, has been flooded in recent days.

Between September and April 7, some 203,944 people were affected by flooding, with 19,250 homes and 209 classrooms destroyed.

Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries, with 80% of its 13 million people employed in agriculture, according to the World Bank.

Flooding there has created surreal scenes like game rangers entering the waterlogged Rusizi National Park in a canoe.

Climate experts say flooding in Burundi and elsewhere in the region is part of extreme conditions linked to the El Niño weather phenomenon.

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