The U.N. refugee agency is boosting its efforts to provide emergency assistance to thousands of Colombians affected by recent flooding that has been called the worst natural catastrophe in the country’s history by its leader.
According to government estimates, more than two million people have been affected by the floods, which resulted from the unusually heavy rainfall that has beset the South American nation since the middle of the year.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which runs an operation to assist more than three million people displaced by violence in Colombia, began distributing emergency aid in affected areas two weeks ago.
“We found people isolated in the hills, in places where the roads have been destroyed, and their children were hungry,” said Marlene Mesa, a high commission staff member who took part in an aid distribution in the area of Cantagallo, south of the province of Bolivar on the Caribbean Coast.
The agency noted that dozens of towns in the hard-hit north of the country remain under water. Thousands of people are living in shelters, and others have moved to less affected areas.