LONDON – Aid agency Oxfam warned Tuesday of a "double
disaster" for millions of people in Niger where heavy rains and flooding
are compounding food shortages caused by a prolonged drought.
The United Nations says more than seven million people are facing
starvation in Niger -- more than half the population -- following the
drought, and Oxfam says the few crops that survived are now being
destroyed by floods.
"Its a double disaster. Before the rains, people lacked food, now
any small reserves of grain they had have been washed away by the water.
Nothing remains," Ibrahim Mahaman, head of a flood-hit village, told
the aid agency.
At last six people have died in the sub-Saharan country because of
the heavy rains, which has pushed the Niger river to its highest level
for more than 80 years and left nearly 70,000 people homeless, according
to UN sources.
"Many crops and vegetables that would have provided crucial food to
hungry families have been destroyed by floods," said Raphael Sindaye,
Oxfam's deputy regional director in west Africa, in a statement issued
"People who were praying for rains for their crops to grow have now lost everything."
He said Oxfam's aid operation was stretched "to the limit" as it
tried to deal with "one of the worst food crises to hit the region in
"Niger urgently needs more money to fund not only the food crisis
but also to help those hit by this second emergency," Sindaye said.
Last week, the UN announced a further 15 million dollars (12 million euros) for World Food Programme operations in Niger.