Unicef: 300,000 displaced by Malawi floods

Floods triggered by weeks of heavy rains have affected more than one million people.

Maize plants, which are a staple crop in Malawi, were destroyed by floodwaters in several districts. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

NEW YORK - More than 300,000 people have been displaced by flooding in Malawi, almost twice as many as previously estimated, the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) said on Thursday.

Floods triggered by weeks of heavy rains have affected more than one million people, killed 276 and injured more than 600, according to new figures released by the the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (Undac) unit.

Mahimbo Mdoe, Unicef's country representative in Malawi, said, "With these new numbers, we need to take stock of our response to ensure all children and families have access to emergency services and supplies."

He added that Undac was carefully monitoring how displaced children were faring because after one month in crowded camps, disease outbreaks and increased malnutrition could occur.

Unicef said its staff were on high alert for waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and malaria and said displacement camps were providing about 56,000 women and children with essential healthcare services.

Residents of Phaloni navigate parts of their village by traditional fishing boats after the Sombani River burst its banks. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

Heavy rains began in Malawi earlier this month, which led to rivers to bursting their banks and flash floods.

Malawi is one of the world's poorest and most densely populated countries and about 85 percent of its 17,5 million population are farmers living in rural areas.

Rain continues to fall in the flooded areas, preventing many of those displaced from returning to their homes.