11 May, 2006

UN OCHA Issue 1st Situational Report on Suriname

The UN OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) have released their first situational report for the flooding in Suriname where torrential rains have affected the entire South and parts of the Central Amazonian Lowlands of Suriname. The districts of Sipaliwini and Brokopondo are the hardest hit but the heavy rain caused several major rivers, in particular the Upper-Suriname, Tapanahoni, Lawa and Marowijne rivers, to rapidly rise and submerge large areas.

Approximately 25,000 to 30,000 square km have been inundated and about 22,000 people left homeless. Authorities expect the situation to worsen until the end of the week with heavy rains forecast for the remaining 72 hours. While heavy rainfall is not uncommon during the rainy season, rainfall of this magnitude has rarely been encountered. As a result, disaster preparedness and response mechanisms for such an event are reportedly extremely limited.

It is reported that medical facilities are still operational and they have HF radio contact with the capital. Around 175 Maroon and indigenous villages and numerous smaller settlements located along the riverbanks and on islands are the most severely affected. There is a risk of an outbreak of a diarrhea epidemic in most affected areas within the next 2 weeks, especially among children, due to flooding of sanitary places and cemeteries and dead livestock in the water. Malaria outbreaks might occur within 4 to 5 weeks.

The Government of Suriname has stated that the Suirnamese Red Cross will now act as the focal point of contact to coordinate otehr relief agencies and to receive incoming international assistance. The UN OCHA has allocated an OCHA Emergency Grant of USD 30,000 for immediate humanitarian relief activities while the UNDP has mobilized USD 50,000 to respond to the emergency. Meanwhile, the Government of the Netherlands has decided to make a 1 million Euro contribution in response to the floods, which will be managed by the UN in country. For more information please refer to the situational report available here.

In case of an emergency ONLY you may call +41-22-917 20 10 or get in touch with Marie Spaak directly on +41-22-917 21 63 or via email to
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