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Floods: Scale of devastation exaggerated -UN

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 Source: jfm

The UN Disaster Assessment Co-ordinating Team currently touring areas affected by floods in the three northern regions of Ghana says the scale of the devastation has been exaggerated.

The team, together with a government delegation and some civil society organisations are re-assessing the impact of the floods to help the UN provide humanitarian support and food supply to the affected people.

But after three-days of assessing the situation, the leader of the UN team, Gisli Olasson says the situation is not as serious as they were made to believe ahead of the tour.

According to the Accra-based radio station -JOYFM - the UN body wants physical evidence of displaced people, and insists it is the only way to proof a need for humanitarian support.

Apart from large tracts of lands submerged under water, the team is demanding to see the whereabouts of large numbers of locals said to have been displaced by the floods, as well as proof of the number of deaths.

But the head of the government’s coordinating team, Dr. Campari, said the UN team may have come in a bit late when the disaster, which struck on August 24, had been largely eased off before the team’s arrival on September 17.

On Wednesday the teams visited parts of the Upper East Region where the Regional Minister announced that 31 persons lost their lives, with 19,000 houses destroyed and some 90,000 persons displaced. Dr. Campari said he wondered what else could be sufficient proof if the team would not be satisfied with official information.

In a spectacular case, Evans Mensah said he came across a woman with her four children who survived three days on a piece of rocky patch of land after the floods swept her home. And for the three days, they survived by feeding on mere bitter leaves.

The government, led by President J.A. Kufuor, has long declared the affected areas a disaster zone with official figures putting the number of displaced people at some 260,000, with some tens of thousands of homes (mostly hamlets and mud houses) swept away by the floods.

Large tracts of farmlands and farm produce have also been destroyed, spiraling fears there could be severe farming in the areas if efforts were not taken to restore life to normalcy.

The government has also committed in excess of ¢60 billion to provide relief and restore destroyed infrastructure, while appealing to the international community for assistance.

Source: jfm

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