Angola Red Cross volunteers bring essential help to hundreds of flood victims

تم النشر: 15 فبراير 2007 0:00 CET

Rana Sidani in Luanda

Raoul Francisco Faria, is one of the flood victims who lost all his belongings in just a few hours, when severe flooding hit Angola a few weeks ago. At least 117 people died and some 28 500 people lost their homes in the eight provinces of Luanda, Benguela, Bengo, Luanda Sul, Malange, Cabinda, Moxico, Moshico.

Now housed in a temporary camp for displaced people, run by the Angolan authorities and the Angola Red Cross (ARC) in Kilamba Kiaxi, a suburb of Luanda, Raoul remembers how the flood waters swept through his house, causing severe injuries to one of his sons and to himself and taking his furniture, his animals and his clothes.

“I was sleeping when the wall collapsed on me. The neighbours came to help my six children who were sleeping nearby. Since then, I have been unable to walk,” recalls Raoul. He is also grieving for his nine-year-old daughter Candida. “She got cholera the day after the floods and died the same week.”

Angola Red Cross volunteers rushed to the scene when the floods hit and provided first aid to the victims. Since then, they have been actively providing support to families housed in several camps around the country.

“We rescue families, register them, install tents, build latrines, and distribute relief items such as mosquito nets, oral rehydration salts and soap,” says Comprido MioDia, the Angola Red Cross regional disaster coordinator.

The floods also spread cholera, malaria, typhoid, and other infections. Besides providing psychological support to the affected families, especially children, ARC volunteers are conducting public information sessions about the prevention of and treatment for cholera.

In Kilamba Kiaxi camp there are 226 internally displaced people hosted in 13 big tents. Affected families receive coal, vegetables and meat to make it possible for them to cook for themselves, even though the ground is still wet. But the camp chief, Katarina Marich, believes that having a communal kitchen where she can cook for all is a better idea. Besides avoiding the risk of setting fire to the tents, a communal kitchen can guarantee that each person has something to eat.

“We also need more mosquito nets to protect people from malaria. We have received only 70 mosquito nets for 226 people,” Katarina explains, urging the international community to do more.

The Angla Red Cross volunteers are working closely with the Civil Protection authorities who established camps for the displaced near the affected areas.

The Civil Protection’s main concern was Cacuaco in Luanda which is the worst-affected. Reports indicate that 75 people died there, 375 families have been severely affected, while in Kasombo, in Moshico province, the river Zambezi burst its banks, destroying houses and crops.

Some 5000 families have lost their home and are in need of shelter. Authorities are now appealing for international support to provide tents, clothes, medicines, hygiene items, blankets, mosquito nets and kitchen sets.

Since January 1, some 6,280 new cholera cases have been reported in Angola in 16 out of 18 provinces in the country. An emergency appeal to combat cholera in Angola for 1.2 million Swiss Francs has been extended until June 2007. To date, it is only 55 % covered. On January 30, the International Federation also released 90,760 Swiss Francs from its disaster relief emergency fund to support Angola Red Cross in its response to the floods affecting the country.