Severe floods force 23 000 people to evacuate, Niger

Severe floods force 23 000 people to evacuate, Niger

Severe floods affecting the southeast Niger since early October forced at least 23 000 people to evacuate, officials said on October 19, 2019. The event threatens a new humanitarian crisis in a region already devastated by Boko Haram Islamist Violence.

The Komadougou Yobe river that flows through the semi-desert Diffa region into Lake Chad burst its banks, causing damage to crops and flooding villages.

Two villages near Diffa were entirely submerged, forcing 2 500 families to move out according to national radio the Voice of the Sahel. Around 400 households found shelter in a gym in the city.

"We have been fighting for days to stop the water rising, but it's not working," said rice farmer Amadou Issa. "The sandbags we've been using to keep the water out are completely underwater."

Severe weather events are common in Niger, which is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Floods caused 57 fatalities and affected 130 000 families from June to September. Capital Niamey was hit the worst in September, with the Niger river waters rising to levels not seen in 50 years. The river is the third biggest in Africa.

In 2019, drought and floods caused food shortages in a crisis worsened by jihadist violence, leaving over 10% of the population seeking humanitarian assistance. Niger, along with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Mauritania are also suffering from increasing attacks by armed Islamists.

The Diffa region is home to at least 120 000 refugees and 109 000 internally displaced individuals.

Featured image credit: @bohemianbikini/Pixabay

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