UNICEF says 300,000 displaced by Malawi floods, double previous estimate

Thu Feb 5, 2015 1:09pm EST
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By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than 300,000 people have been displaced by flooding in Malawi, almost twice as many as previously estimated, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday.

Floods triggered by weeks of heavy rains have affected more than 1 million people, killed 276 and injured more than 600, according to new figures released by the U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) unit.

"With these new numbers...we need to take stock of our response to ensure all children and families have access to emergency services and supplies," said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s country representative in Malawi.

"We are carefully monitoring how displaced children are faring, as we know after one month in crowded camps, disease outbreaks and increased malnutrition can occur."

UNICEF said its staff are on high alert for water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and malaria and said displacement camps are providing about 56,000 women and children with essential healthcare services.

Heavy rains began in Malawi earlier this month, leading rivers to burst their banks and creating flash floods.

Malawi is one of the world's poorest and most densely populated countries, and about 85 percent of its 17.5 million population are farmers living in rural areas.

Rain is still falling in the flooded areas, preventing many of those displaced from returning to their homes.   Continued...

A deserted shop is seen in flood waters in Chikwawa district, in southern Malawi, January 13, 2015. REUTERS/World Food Programme /Handout via Reuters