Flood Disaster Strikes East Africa: UN Stands Ready to Offer Assistance

Nairobi, Kenya – UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed deep sorrow over the devastating loss of life and widespread impact of the recent deluge in East Africa, affecting countries such as Kenya, Burundi, Somalia, and Tanzania. The Secretary-General extended his condolences to the affected governments and populations, particularly the families of those who lost their lives or were injured in the disaster.

The UN, in collaboration with local authorities, is actively involved in addressing the pressing humanitarian needs arising from the catastrophic floods. Secretary-General Guterres emphasized the UN’s willingness to provide additional support as necessary. Concern was also raised about the adverse effects of the extreme weather patterns associated with El Niño, which have the potential to further devastate communities and disrupt their means of sustenance.

In response to the heavy rains in Kenya, which resulted in over 170 casualties since mid-March, the UN and its partners are engaged in providing crucial supplies like water, sanitation, hygiene, food, healthcare, and psychosocial support to those in need. The floods have profoundly impacted over 190,000 individuals and displaced more than 150,000 people across the country, with significant losses in the agricultural sector, including livestock and cropland.

The ongoing rains pose a continuous threat of exacerbating the destruction caused by flooding, landslides, and infrastructure damage. Furthermore, Kenya’s vital tourism industry has suffered losses, with reports of safari-goers being evacuated from the Massai Mara national reserve due to flooding. The capital city, Nairobi, experienced road closures amid the deluge, while a tragic incident in the Mai Mahiu area claimed dozens of lives and left around 80 individuals missing after a river engulfed a tunnel.

In another tragic development, the UN migration agency, IOM, and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, mourned the loss of at least 50 migrants who perished while attempting to reach the Canary Islands from Senegal. Amidst these challenges, concerns are mounting over the proliferation of misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, a region marked by longstanding conflicts and persecution of the Rohingya minority.

The UN team in Myanmar emphasized the importance of community leaders promoting social cohesion to mitigate tensions and prevent communal violence. Addressing the root causes of discrimination and impunity in Rakhine State is deemed crucial in finding sustainable solutions to the current crisis in Myanmar. The UN reaffirmed its condemnation of violence against civilians and called for the protection of aid workers, adherence to humanitarian laws, cessation of hostilities, and ensuring humanitarian access to those in need in conflict zones.