General News of Monday, 17 September 2007

Source: BBC/GHP

Flood Relief Gathers Pace

... 250-300,000 People Affected
... About 20 Dead!
... Navy sends boats to the north
... French govt sending planes
... North of Ghana declared disaster zone
... FM Stations Rally Support

Efforts are continuing in Ghana and other West and East African countries to deliver relief aid to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by severe flooding.

Torrential rain and flash floods have destroyed homes and inundated farmland in at least 14 countries.

The government of Ghana has declared the north of the country, one of the worst affected areas, a disaster zone.

Much of the region is entirely cut off by the floods and France is sending planes and helicopters to help.

The government estimates that eighteen people have died and between 250-300,000 people are affected, though it is not yet clear how many of them are displaced.

Some food assistance has reached the displaced but only when there is a clearer picture of the extent of the problem will the relief effort gather pace.

Ghana has set up an inter-ministerial task force to oversee both immediate relief and long-term reconstruction of the three northern regions devastated by the floods.

The government has been meeting United Nations representatives and other relief agencies and an assessment mission is expected to start on Monday.

With many roads impassable even assessing the needs of the flood victims will not be easy.

The Ghanaian authorities say the French government is sending an airplane and two helicopters.

The Ghanaian navy has sent boats to the north of the country to help ferry relief items and to move people to safety.

But with more rain expected in the coming days the situation may well get worse before the relief effort gets into full swing.

The French have offered similar assistance to two of Ghana's neighbours, Togo and Ivory Coast