Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) is disheartened about the catastrophic floods that have severely damaged homes and displaced people in areas all over Sudan in the past five weeks and further calls for international attention. Since the beginning of August, at least 102 people have died due to the unprecedented floods and extreme rainfall. Affected areas not only include Khartoum, Blue Nile, and Darfur but 17 out of Sudan’s 18 states have been severely impacted by the floods and are in need of critical aid.
Reports show that 46 more people are reportedly injured while over 64,000 homes were destroyed and more than 5,000 livestock has died. On September 5th, Sudan declared a state of emergency for a period of three months after half a million people lost their homes and over 100 have died. Radio Dabanga recently featured a video of a minibus, overturned and pinned down against rushing currents, with five passengers. In the area of Mafaza, a tornado destroyed schools and homes and led to great losses in neighboring villages. According to journalist Mohamed El Ameen, 30% of the people in the Red Sea state have fled their homes and water levels will continue to rise. On September 10th, record-breaking water levels threatened to ruin the ancient town of Merowe, home to important archaeological sites and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As of September 11th, the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Yasir Abbas, announced at a press conference that the unprecedented water levels and immense severity of the disaster were likely due to the narrowing of the river bed caused by urbanization. The Director of the Sudanese Civil Defense has called on the government to devise radical and practical legislation to prevent further house building near riverbeds and to safely relocate impacted people to safe spaces.
The government, UN agencies, NGOs, and the private sector have responded with emergency assistance to affected families, but the initial forecast of 250,000 people affected was surpassed and a shortage of supplies and deliveries continue to leave many more helpless. The Floods Task Force currently coordinates humanitarian responses and government aid, but immediate care from the international community is urgently needed.
The coming days will be extremely difficult for the people of Sudan especially those who are already vulnerable and dealing with the long-standing crises. Everyone is on high alert and predicts emergency public health crises and the spread of communal diseases to increase.
DWAG, therefore, continues to call on the Interim Government of Sudan to take immediate action in the resolution of the crisis. This includes making a public statement announcing their plans for relief, particularly for the affected communities in Darfur and the remainder of the country, and follow-up efforts in meeting the needs of people displaced by the floods while also searching for those still missing. DWAG furthermore calls on international humanitarian organizations, including the UN agencies operating in Sudan, to work toward providing food, clean water, and safe shelter and adequate health assistance to avert major health crises.
Only a joint effort by the Sudanese Government and international agencies can resolve this natural catastrophe. DWAG hopes to see decisive action for the sake of all victims affected.
The people of Darfur are already vulnerable due to longstanding crises, and now the flood has exacerbated their suffering. Please join us to urge the interim government of Sudan and humanitarian agencies to stand up for the flood victims in Darfur.
Photo Credits: Radio Dabanga “Wad Madani, the capital of El Gezira, in August 2016 (RD)”