Sudan declares state of emergency over deadly floods

CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese authorities declared their country a natural disaster area and imposed a three-month state of emergency across the country after rising floodwaters and heavy rainfall killed around 100 people and inundated over 100,000 houses since late July.

The announcement was made yesterday following a meeting of the country’s Defence and Security Council which is headed by a top government official General Abdel-Fattah Burhan.

Flooding caused by seasonal heavy rainfall, mostly in neighbouring Ethiopia, led the Nile River to rise about 17.5 metres late in August, the highest level it has reached in about a century according to the Sudanese Irrigation Ministry.

The ministry said water levels of the Blue Nile are higher than the 1988 flood levels that destroyed tens of thousands of homes in several parts of Sudan and displaced over one million people.

Labour and Social Development Minister Lina al-Sheikh said the flooding had killed some 100 people, as well as injured at least 46 people and affected more than 500,000 people across the country. More than 100,000 houses across the country were totally or partly collapsed, she said.

The United Nations (UN) Humanitarian Agency has warned that the situation is expected to get worse over the coming weeks, as above-average rains are forecast until the end of September.

The capital of Khartoum was hit hard in the past two weeks. Residents in several districts of the city were seen erecting barricades and other shields as water from the Nile swept through several neighbourhoods, in footage circulating online.

The military deployed troops to help evacuate people and build barricades in Khartoum as well as distribute food, after flooding there cut roads and swept away houses and belongings.

Earlier this week, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said access to clean water, which is critical amid the coronavirus pandemic, has also been reduced, with the floods knocking out or contaminating some 2,000 water sources.

Sudanese stand amidst flood waters in Tuti island, where the Blue and White Nile merge. PHOTO: AFP