AFGHANISTAN: Flash floods displace 1,200 people in Samangan

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KABUL, 26 May 2008 (IRIN) – Flash floods have displaced about 200 families (roughly 1,200 individuals) in the Hazrat Sultan district of Samangan Province in northern Afghanistan. The families urgently need food and shelter, according to the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS). “Heavy summer rainfall caused two separate floods in Hazrat Sultan district on Sunday afternoon, which completely destroyed 26 houses, partly damaged more than 100 houses and killed dozens of animals. No human casualties were reported,” Mohammad Zahir Hamidi, provincial head of ARCS, told IRIN from Samangan on 26 May.

“We will provide the displaced families with tents and kitchen kits. We asked the World Food Programme [WFP] to send food items,” added Hamidi.

WFP said it will send a team from Kabul to assess the needs of the displaced families on 27 May. “After we get the result of the assessment, we will send food items to the affected families,” Ebadullah Ebadi, a WFP spokesman, told IRIN in Kabul.

The Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) in Kabul said that 190 families had fled their houses to a hill near their village where some stayed overnight. Others were accommodated by nearby villagers or went back to their partly damaged houses after the flood waters receded.

Meanwhile, the ARCS office in Samangan has warned of the possibility of more rain in the area. “We need urgent assistance because the displaced families are so vulnerable now and more floods would cause further damage [and suffering],” Hamidi said.

In February, a national emergency commission – made up of several government bodies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – warned that 21 out of the country’s 34 provinces, including Samangan, were “vulnerable” to spring floods, which usually start in March and last until May.

A spell of floods and landslides caused by heavy rains killed dozens of people and damaged thousands of homes across Afghanistan in 2007, according to Afghanistan’s National Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA).

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