Flooding in Sudan Raises an Alarm

Natural Catastrophe Strikes the War-torn South

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ROME, OCT. 28, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Floods are inundating southern Sudan, bringing more tragedy to an area already wearied by war.

Six people have died in recent days as floods devastated the county of Tonj, and the Catholic Church in Sudan has sent out an appeal for help. Officials fear the death toll could mount as the flooding continues.

The six deaths resulted from water-borne diseases, the Sudan Catholic Information Office (SCIO) said in a report to the CISA news agency.

The people´s «health is not good and water-borne diseases are spreading fast,» said Lino Daffalla Dangau, the community representative of Tonj, who appealed to Bishop Caesar Mazzolari of the Diocese of Rumbek, which includes Tonj.

Dangau asked the bishop to appeal to the international community for help before the situation gets out of hand.

«Floodwaters now cover three-quarters of the Thony and Muok locales in the area and so far have destroyed the homes of 2,282 people,» Dangau said.

Agricultural fields have also been destroyed by the floods, doing away with recently planted millet, sorghum and groundnut crops, making the victims vulnerable to famine-related hardships, Dangau added.

On Thursday, Bishop Mazzolari confirmed in Nairobi, Kenya, that the flood situation was grave.

«A lot of people have been displaced and are in desperate need of food, shelter and medication,» he said.

The bishop said the Church has «managed to accommodate some children in our school feeding program as we did in 1998, but additional support is required as a matter of urgency.»

Tonj remains isolated because of the floods. The flooding has aggravated a bad situation caused by the Khartoum government´s aerial attack May 24.

In addition to its indigenous people, Tonj in Bahr el Ghazal is sheltering thousands of Nuer people displaced from their homes in western Upper Nile by oil companies and factional fighting.

The Diocese of Rumbek can be reached at scio@maf.or.ke.

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