Flash floods in Sudan have brought both criticism of the government and solidarity with the victims
NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Some Sudanese have taken to the internet in a fundraising drive for 100,000 people displaced by flash floods and heavy rains in Khartoum, Darfur and five other states, while others are calling for the overthrow of the government which they blame for the disaster.
The United Nations said 11 people had been killed and 98,500 displaced by flooding between August 1 and 4. Other sources are reporting up to 38 deaths due to drowning, houses collapsing, lightning and electrocution.
Young Sudanese have started an online fundraising campaign called Al Nafeer, Arabic for ‘rushing to work’, to provide aid for those affected.
More than 14,000 houses were destroyed or damaged by flooding in the four-day period, the United Nations said. Homeless families urgently need emergency shelter, health, water and sanitation services.
Khartoum – where the White Nile and Blue Nile rivers meet – and neighbouring River Nile states are the worst affected, accounting for 88,735 of those displaced and 10 of the deaths, the United Nations said.
The June to September rains regularly cause flooding in Sudan.
“Every year the rain fills ditches and wadis and the Nile flows over, and a lot of people who insist on building their homes in flood-prone areas suffer some form of damage or another,” wrote blogger Reem Gaafar.
The last major flood was in 2007 when 365,000 people’s homes were destroyed or damaged and scores died from diarrhoea.
Internet users are accusing the government of failing to prepare or respond adequately.
“#Khartoumisdrowning & no one seems to care,” tweeted a Sudanese woman in Britain, dalliasd. “The govt is doing zilc.”
A war of words has broken out on Facebook.
The Sudan Tribune quoted bloggers as saying the government’s failed sewerage projects caused Khartoum to flood, and as accusing it of hiring incompetent companies affiliated to the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to carry out the work.
“Two ministers in Khartoum government cabinet have insulted the bloggers on Facebook, calling them “seculars” who do not believe in the “act of God”,” it added.
IMPETUS TO OPPONENTS
The disaster has given fresh impetus to government opponents who have been trying to stoke an Arab Spring-style uprising to overthrow President Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power for 24 years.
Last month, 10,000 people rallied in Khartoum’s twin city Omdurman, the biggest rally in years.
Dalia Haj-Omar called for the overthrow of the ruling party, tweeting: “If NOW is not the moment for people to bring down NCP, I don’t know when!”
While there is anger over soaring food prices and corruption, security forces usually break up the small student-led street protests before they spread.
The government is also struggling to contain numerous armed rebellions across the country.
In the western region of Darfur, mainly African tribes took up arms against the government in 2003, accusing it of discriminating against them.
In South Darfur, the floods have displaced 1,020 people and destroyed 170 homes, the U.N. said.
Camps for the displaced were worst hit, with people being injured by collapsing houses and sanitation facilities, Radio Dabanga reported. Families are now living out in the open, awaiting tents and plastic sheeting.
On Tuesday, the United Nations said the government had, without any explanation, ejected 20 of its staff working to help some two million displaced people in Darfur.
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