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100,000 homeless in Benin floods

Sixty people have been killed and 100,000 left homeless after devastating flooding in Benin.

Triggered by heavy rains, the floods cover two thirds of the west African country. They have destroyed homes, schools and health centres.

More than 358,000 people are affected by the crisis including some 65,000 children aged under five, according to figures from the United Nations.

Most of the dead were killed by drowning or by buildings collapsing on top of them said the United Nations’ Kemoral Jadjombaye.

The situation is now "becoming increasingly worrying", he said with most of the country in need of emergency shelter, food and clean water. "Out of the country's 77 communes, 42 are completely inundated," Mr Jadjombaye told Agence France Presse news service.

A cholera outbreak has added to the misery, with 800 cases reported across Benin, including seven deaths. "With the floods, an upsurge in the epidemic and water-borne illnesses is feared across the country," he added.

Benin’s government has called a national emergency and asked for international aid in response to the crisis.

The United Nations is preparing a flash appeal for money to pay for aid. For the short term, £5 million is being sent to the Central Emergency Response Fund, a humanitarian fund established by the UN to enable more timely and reliable assistance in the immediate aftermath of emergencies.

The United Nations Children’s Fund has handed out milk and Plumpy'nut, a high-protein, ready-to-eat paste – to help prevent malnutrition in children and women.

Meanwhile children from 276 damaged or destroyed schools have been relocated to safe parts of the country by the government.

Britain has been quick to respond through emergency support to Care International and will help provide 50,000 people with clean water and hygiene kits, food, shelter, mosquito nets and cooking kits to the most vulnerable families.

Benin borders Nigeria and has a population of some 8.8 million.

Floods have hit a wide swathe of West Africa this rainy season, including Nigeria, where whole villages have been destroyed and scores of people left homeless, particularly in the country's north. Farms have been ruined and officials are worried about how flooding will affect food supply. Nigeria's north has seen a deadly cholera outbreak this year as well. In Niger, the UN said in late August that floods had left nearly 200,000 people homeless. The country had already been dealing with a severe food crisis.

Hayley attribution