UN to send thousands of tents to aid flood-stricken Benin

The UN refugee agency is to start an emergency airlift of
tents to the West African nation of Benin this week, amid the worst flooding
there in decades.

Some 3,000 tents will be flown in from Denmark to provide
shelter for some of the estimated 680,000 people affected.

Two-thirds of Benin has suffered from months of heavy
rain, and about 800 cases of cholera have been reported.

It is the worst flooding to hit the country – one of the
poorest in the world – since 1963.

Areas previously thought not to be vulnerable to flooding
have been devastated and villages wiped out.

“There are huge areas that are covered in water so
people are living on the tops of their houses, because people try to stay near
their homes,” Helen Kawkins of the Care aid agency told the BBC.

The flooding has sparked major health concerns, with
drinking and bathing water contaminated by human waste which has overflowed
from latrines.

The number of cases of cholera are rising daily, with
more than 50 reported in the largest city, Cotonou, alone, Care says. Dozens of
people have died as a result of the flooding in the past few weeks, officials

People who have lost their homes have sought shelter in
medical facilities, putting pressure on the country’s health system.

The UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (Ocha) says an appeal for funds and aid is being planned.

The rain is continuing to deluge Benin and forecasters
say there is no sign yet of it abating.