Friday, February 17, 2006

Desert Rain

Children in both Madison and Cairo seem to enjoy playing outside in inclement weather. For Western Sahara refugees, however, a sudden downpour had tragic consequences:
"Aid agencies are rushing to help some 60,000 Western Sahara refugees after freak rains late last week wiped out houses and schools and damaged hospitals in camps in eastern Algeria.

"Because the rains - reportedly the worst seen in the area since 1994 - came on the heels of the UN World Food Programme's February distribution, refugees have lost an entire month's food supply, a WFP official told IRIN on Wednesday.

"'Heavy, concentrated rains [at the end of last week] basically melted houses, administration buildings, the Red Cross building and schools,' said Michelle Iseminger, head of WFP's office in Tindouf, Algeria. Aid workers say flooding also severely damaged hospitals and markets.

"'[Refugees] had just received their monthly distribution,' she said."


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