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Sudan floods leave 60,000 homeless

About 60,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in south Sudan over the past month, health officials said yesterday (Tuesday) warning that many more are at risk of malaria and other diseases.

Flood waters started rising in August because of torrential seasonal downpours in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state. It has left large parts of the state capital Aweil under water and affected thousands in the nearby countryside.

The Government of Southern Sudan has declared Northern Bahr el-Ghazal State as a disaster area.

"In the last one month, 57,135 people have been displaced by the floods," said Olivia Lomoro, from the central eastern African country’s health ministry. She said Aweil, the capital of Northern Bahr El-Ghazal state, was worst hit by the crisis. The area also bore the brunt of a two-decade long civil war and already depends heavily on international food aid.

And the rains, which last until October, could still uproot many more people, said Southern health minister Luka Monoja, hinting that the worst is still to come.

"A serious situation has developed in Aweil; more than three-quarters of the town is flooded and many houses are collapsed," said Monoja adding that as many as 15,000 families in three counties have fled their homes.

"The people are now living on the road, as it is the only area of the town that is raised."

Aid agencies have been working to help those left homeless, the health ministry has sent medical supplies and the south’s humanitarian ministry is sending tents for emergency shelter as well as 15,000 bags of grain.

"The problem is because the soil does not absorb water, and the land is flat," said Monoja, who went to look at the affected areas on Sunday.

"We are now doing forward planning, so that as soon as an area is affected by flooding we can arrive there with food, shelter and protection," he told Agence France Presse news service.

The flooding is another problem for the country’s war-torn south in the run-up to a referendum on independence in January, which some analysts fear will be set back by a growing food shortage, situation with nearly half the region's eight million people short of food. The mainly Christian and animist south has fought a harsh civil war against the mainly Muslim north over ethnicity, ideas and resources for all but a few years since 1955.

Hayley attribution