The United Nations and partners continue to support authorities across East Africa as the region braces for more of the heavy rains and severe flooding that have reportedly killed upwards of 350 people since March. Torrential rains could worsen with the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Hidaya, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned on Friday.

The tropical cyclone is the first of its kind to develop in eastern Africa and is due to have a “very big impact”, WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis told journalists in Geneva. She said Tanzania was expected to suffer in particular because the ground is already waterlogged and “is about to get hit by even more rainfall” from the storm. Kenya is also on high alert after a dam burst its banks on Monday, killing at least 45 people.

Separately, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, expressed particular concern about thousands of refugees and other displaced people across East Africa who have been uprooted once again after their homes were washed away. In Kenya, nearly 20,000 people in the Dadaab refugee camps – home to more than 380,000 people – have been displaced due to rising water levels. Many of them are among those who arrived in the past couple of years after fleeing severe drought in neighbouring Somalia.

Some 4,000 residents are currently sheltering in six schools with facilities that have been extensively damaged. Others are staying with friends or relatives elsewhere in the camp, where several latrines have collapsed, putting refugees at risk of deadly water-borne diseases. Meanwhile in Burundi, around 32,000 refugees – roughly half of the refugee population in the country – are living in flood-affected areas, and 500 require urgent assistance. Refugee families in the capital, Bujumbura, have had to relocate multiple times due to rising water levels.

UNHCR said access to food and other necessities is increasingly difficult as prices have spiked due to high fees to use canoes to move goods. Education has ground to a halt as classrooms are flooded and learning materials destroyed.

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Source: The UN

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