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Campaign launched in U.S. to aid Accra after floods, explosion

Family members of a person who died react at a national service for victim's of a gas station that ignited killing around hundred and sixty people last week, in Accra, Ghana, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. The flooding in the capital last week caused fuel from a gas station to ignite, killing at least 160 people. As the country mourned the victims at a national service Wednesday, the Ghanaian government is facing allegations that poorly managed city planning contributed to the tragedy.
Family members of a person who died react at a national service for victim's of a gas station that ignited killing around hundred and sixty people last week, in Accra, Ghana, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. The flooding in the capital last week caused fuel from a gas station to ignite, killing at least 160 people. As the country mourned the victims at a national service Wednesday, the Ghanaian government is facing allegations that poorly managed city planning contributed to the tragedy. AP

The world’s largest coalition of black elected leaders says it will use its power and influence to deliver aid to the people of Accra, Ghana, where heavy rains and flooding last month caused an explosion that left more than 200 dead and dozens more badly burned.

The Global Alliance of Mayors and Leaders from Africa and of African Descent, which concluded its fourth world summit in Accra on the day of the June 3 explosion, appealed to U.S. mayors and non-governmental organizations for money, medical supplies and other resources needed to assist disaster victims and their families.

But leaders this week said they were concerned that Accra residents would suffer from the international community’s short attention span. The cash-strapped nation faces an uncertain recovery process and an estimated $100 million in disaster-related damage. There’s also the long-term care of those who survived the floods to consider.

“People are going to need ongoing care for months to come,” said Mayor Frank Jackson of Prairie View, Texas, a U.S.-based coordinator for the Global Alliance. “We were just there and they were very gracious. Not only do we appreciate our host, our bond with them will extend through this effort.”

The effort was launched less than a week after torrential downpours flooded an Accra fuel storage facility and carried petrol to a city gas station that was crowded with people seeking shelter from the rain, according to the American Red Cross’ Accra office. The flooding and explosion would eventually claim more than 250 lives, Ghanaian officials said.

On Monday, Jackson and another alliance official said some financial and medical supply commitments had come in, but they were a long way from realizing the full impact of the alliance’s 30-nation membership.

The mayors’ support drive isn’t meant to fix roads or rebuild flood-damaged homes in Ghana’s capital, Jackson said. The leaders have consulted with Accra’s mayor, Alfred Vanderpuije, and the Ghanaian Ministry of Health to compile a needs-based list of medical supplies. The alliance also encouraged members to seek cash donations, which can speed up delivery of the needed aid, said Djbril Diallo, chairman of the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network, which serves as a secretariat for the Global Alliance.

“In our experience at the United Nations, we often find that it’s better to raise the funds to help people buy the supplies locally,” said Diallo, who is also a senior adviser to the executive director of UNAIDS, a U.N. agency for the global response to HIV/AIDS.

The Accra support drive is a test of the growing clout of the Global Alliance, Diallo added.

“We were created to promote the economic empowerment of African mayors and mayors of African descent,” he said. “We have the means of keeping it alive, in terms of encouraging solidarity through efforts like this.”

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