|Eritrea: 8,000 IDPs homeless after rains wash away camp |
ASMARA, ERITREA, 6 Aug 04 (IRIN) - Some 8,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in western Eritrea were homeless after heavy rains washed out their camp on Friday, the United Nations said.
Appealing for emergency assistance for the IDPs, the UN said its assessment team had so far been unable to reach the camp, which houses Eritreans displaced from their homes during the border conflict of 1998-2000.
"Heavy rain and hail have destroyed the 2,000 tents at Korokan camp," Musa Bunguda head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Eritrea, said.
"We've been told that the solar panel, health clinic and hand pump are damaged and the food which they have has been soaked, which will ruin it," he added, "We are trying to mobilise emergency assistance from the UN agencies."
According to the Eritrean Relief and Refugee Committee, the IDPs had been living in the open since their camp was washed away.
"If the IDPs continue to live in a very wet place their health is going to be affected," Bunguda said. "With the main source of water affected there will also be an increase in both diarrhoea and malnutrition."
An attempt by a UN team to reach the camp, which is near the border with Ethiopia failed due to flooded roads. Bunguda said that he had contacted the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) to try and get a helicopter to fly to the site.
Currently 57,000 Eritreans live in camps, displaced from their homes by the two-year border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia and are unable to return to their homes due to landmines and continuing border insecurity. There are also 8,000 expellees from Ethiopia without permanent shelter.
"Donors need to assist us now with tents and shelter, not wait until another storm damages a camp," Bunguda added. "But we also need to get the money for long-term solutions, to get these people away from living in tents in the first place."
The UN has appealed for $1.8 million to settle the 8,000 expellees and is hoping to receive $10 million to begin returning the IDPs to their homes.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]