UN Humanitarian Agencies call for urgent response to storm, heavy rains in El Aaiun refugee camp

United Nations Humanitarian Agencies have jointly assessed the impact of the strong storm accompanied by heavy rains that hit El Aaiun refugee camp and called for a joint, urgent and appropriate response, in a statement Friday. 

"UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF and WHO urge donors and concerned parties to contribute to enable the humanitarian agencies and their partners to address the dire humanitarian situation in the 3 districts of the Laayoune camp which have been the most affected by the storm," said the statement.

"Similar events, exacerbate an already difficult situation of a vulnerable refugee population that has been hard-hit by continued reduction in funding level."

"The storm occurred almost a year after extreme weather conditions in October 2015 caused severe floods that led to an unprecedented level of destruction in the Sahrawi refugee camps," the statement further said. 

The statement indicated that "on August 15th, a strong storm accompanied by heavy rains hit Laayoune Camp - one of the 5 Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, in Western Algeria. According to the refugee community and the Sahrawi Red Crescent, 11 refugees were injured, and 6 were evacuated to Tindouf Regional Hospital in order to receive appropriate medical care. In addition, damages to shelters, tents, public infrastructure and the loss of food were reported." 

"The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) immediately launched, on August 16th and 17th, a Rapid Joint Assessment , in coordination with the Sahrawi Red Crescent and the Saharawi leadership along with the World Food Programme (WFP), UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the NGOs operating in the camps."

"The assessment which covered shelter, health, water and sanitation sectors, as well as education and food, focused on the most affected areas located in the 3 districts (dairas) of the Layooune camp, namely Dawra, Bukraa and Dchira."

According to UNHCR, the lead agency in the humanitarian assistance to refugees, 40 staff members of 12 International Organizations and partners participated in this effort, quickly expressing on the occasion to their visit to the camp their support and empathy towards the families affected by this unfortunate situation, which comes during the peak of the heat season in the region.

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