By James Tasamba
GOMA, DR Congo (AA) - About 37,000 people, including 24,000 children, are still stranded in Zongo due to floods, an official said Saturday.
The disaster was triggered by heavy rains which hit the area in northeastern DR Congo since October and the situation worsened after the Ubangi River burst its banks, said Zongo Mayor Placide Kumugo Soko.
People are desperately in need of water, medicine and food, he said, noting that seven out of Zongo’s eight neighborhoods are flooded.
According to the Minister for Humanitarian Actions Steve Mbikayi, floods have created a worrying and critical humanitarian situation along the Ubangi River.
There are some 5,137 homes affected and 36,822 people thus far, according to news site Actualite.cd, that attributed the figures to Mbikayi.
Infrastructure was also destroyed, including schools, bridges, public buildings and hundreds of hectares of crops that were submerged by water, according to media reports.
North Ubangi cities such as Mobayi-Mbongo, Bosobolo, Businga, Yakoma and Gbadolite were reportedly badly affected. A six-month-old child died when a house collapsed on a family.
Media reports indicate aid has been slow to reach residents.
The central government announced after a Cabinet meeting Friday it would mobilize funds to help the victims.
Lawmakers and the governor of South Ubangi met Thursday with Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba and pleaded for their province to be declared a "disaster zone" and relief to be given as “emergency aid.”
Natural disasters triggered by heavy rains have killed dozens of residents and displaced hundreds of others across the East Africa region in 2019.
South Sudan declared a national emergency after 420,000 people fled floods, according to the United Nations.
In Somalia, 370,000 have been displaced and plantations destroyed after rivers overflowed.
According to the United Nations, floods have killed nearly 20 people there.
In Ethiopia, more than 200,000 people have been displaced while in Kenya, at least 17,000 have been displaced and 48 people killed.
At least 70 people lost their lives while 177 others were injured by natural disasters triggered by heavy rains across Rwanda between January and September, according to a disaster assessment report.