UNICEF's Edward Bally reports on the emergency response to the devastating floods in Benin.
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Helping Flood Victims in Benin
Edward Bally: You’re watching UNICEF Television.
Floods and heavy rainfalls over the past month have seriously destructed the life of hundreds of thousands of people in far West African countries. In those places, 400 people died and more than 1.5 million have been displaced.
In Benin alone, the latest report states that 680,000 people have been affected and 187 completely lost their homes and had to be displaced. In many villages, people were caught in the middle of their sleep when the water started devastating their homes.
Jude Narcisse Edegan: It was all very sudden. The water level started getting higher and higher. It started to invade our houses. We yelled and told the population to evacuate towards the school and the church. We left everything behind and took our children to safety.
Edward Bally: Constance Dagnihoun, a mother of five had to leave her house loosing all her belongings in the water. Like her, all the villagers had to move 500 meters from their old houses and build a small settlements of the road. 1,400 people now live in extremely poor conditions.
Constance Dagnihoun: I now live in this tent with three of the mothers and all our children. It’s not safe. I'm worried for them. We want to rebuild new houses as soon as possible.
Edward Bally: To respond to this crisis, UNICEF and its partners in the United Nations have implemented a comprehensive response to help those in urgent need. The priority for UNICEF is to avoid an outbreak of diseases.
Francois Bellet: Our main concern is that people go back to their destroyed villages and start using the damaged wells which are now contaminated. There’s a high risk of child mortality and of an epidemic.
Edward Bally: As a lead urgency on water, health and sanitation issues as well as on the medication and nutrition, UNICEF helped the distribution of clean water, disinfectants, soap and mosquito nets.
UNICEF also provided 1,350,000 purification tablets to clean the water. The emergency response includes providing shelter materials as well as food and water to those in need. Among the hardest people, 200,000 are children. In the country, 600 classrooms have been destroyed and many people took shelter in schools preventing children from getting normal education. Hopefully all the children of Benin will soon be able to go back to school but getting back to a normal life might take a lot more time.
This is Edward Bally reporting for UNICEF television. For more information, go to UNICEF.org, unite for children.