May 3 (UPI) — A month of heavy rains and flooding have killed at least 100 people and displaced 260,000 others in Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross said Thursday.
Military forces have used boats and helicopters to assist evacuating residents in heavy-hit areas, which include communities throughout the southern portion of the community. Rains in Kikifi County have caused the Sabaki River to burst its banks, leaving some residents there marooned, Kenya Defense Forces said.
The Kenya Red Cross said many of the affected communities were already struggling due to a drought in 2017. The floods have contaminated water sources and destroyed health centers, homes, crops, irrigation systems, farm equipment, roads and train lines.
“This is a double tragedy for many communities,” said Abbas Gullet, secretary-general of the Kenya Red Cross Society. “These people are strong, and they have already overcome so much adversity. But there is only so much a person can take, and I’m worried that these floods will push some people beyond the brink.”
The organization warned that the floods could trigger or worsen outbreaks of malaria and cholera.
“We are also worried that once the rains subside, people may face an upsurge of mosquito-borne disease such as dengue fever, chikungunya and malaria. We need to act now to pre-empt these very real, and potentially very deadly threats,” said Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, regional director for Africa at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The heavy rains also have impacted neighboring Somalia, where the United Nations said up to 175,000 people have been displaced. The floods are some of the worst the region has ever seen, the agency said.
“Internally displaced people remain the most vulnerable to the impact of the flooding with many camps located in low-lying areas,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, said.