COTONOU (AFP) – A top UN humanitarian official visited Benin on Friday as flooding ravaged parts of west and central Africa, affecting some 1.5 million people.

UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos was also set to hold discussions on the crisis in Mali and malnutrition in the Sahel region. She was to meet President Boni Yayi, the current chairman of the African Union.

On Friday, Amos visited Bonou, a flood-devastated district in the Oueme valley of Benin. Floods occur frequently in the west African rainy season, but they have been particularly devastating this year.

At least 340 deaths were recorded while 1.5 million people were affected in 13 countries in west and central Africa between July and August by floods, according to UN estimates.

In Nigeria, which neighbours Benin, emergency officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by flooding. The Red Cross however in early October said flooding across Nigeria had killed at least 148 people and displaced more than 64,000.

Ten deaths have been recorded in Benin so far but it is feared that in the next two months those living along the Oueme River in the south of the country could face more flooding.

According to the UN, the country of 9.2 million people was the worst hit by devastating west African flooding during the 2010 rainy season. At least 46 people were reported dead, with some 700,000 people affected.

Amos will also discuss with Yayi food security in the Sahel, where the number of children suffering from malnutrition in the region reached 1.5 million in August, according to UNICEF


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