Almost 70 lives lost in floods and landslides in Burundi

Published: 20 February 2014 8:53 CET

Hanne Sorine Sorensen, IFRC

Torrential rain that lasted more than 10 hours has caused havoc in and around Burundi’s capital Bujumbura.

69 people, many of them children, have been confirmed dead as flooding, mud and landslides caused by the rain, swept away homes or caused houses to collapse. More than 180 people have suffered broken arms and legs or fractures to the head. More casualties are expected as rescue teams reach all of the affected areas.

So far, nearly 20,000 people have been displaced, and close to 2,200 families have been left homeless. Two bridges were swept away and infrastructure such as roads and power supplies have been damaged. So too have crops and livelihoods.

The Burundi Red Cross Society (BRCS) is urgently appealing for donations to help victims of this disaster, which hit the capital Bujumbura and the five communes of  Kamenge, Kinama, Buterere, Ngagara and Kanyosha. Kinyinya and Kijaga in Mutumbuzi commune are also reported to have been affected.

“Today, we call upon all charitable people who have historically shown solidarity with Burundi to again come forward. We need temporary shelter. We need hygiene kits and we need kitchen sets. People are destitute. We absolutely have to find the means to assist these people,” says Pamphile Kantabaze, Secretary General, BRCS.

There is also an urgent need for food and access to proper water and sanitation facilities. Currently, BRCS is providing drinking water in five different temporary sites which the government has set up.

The National Society has mobilized more than 400 volunteers, who together with 60 staff, are involved in the rescue operation, providing first aid, evacuating the seriously injured to hospitals, and searching for missing persons. Others are constructing temporary shelters and digging latrines.

Until now, BRCS has distributed 100 blankets, 100 mosquito nets, 100 plastic mats, in addition to jerry cans and soap. But more is needed.

And with the rains expected to continue, an already precarious situation is likely to get a lot worse.