Over 51,000 affected, 28 killed by Niger flooding

At least 28 people have been killed and more than 51,000 affected by flooding in Niger after heavy rains in June inundated swathes of the impoverished nation, the United Nations said Thursday.

The weather has destroyed more than 4,500 homes and more than 250 acres (100 hectares) of fields and gardens, according to data from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Niamey.

The figures are sharply higher than the last UN estimates on August 12, which said 12 people had died and 27,000 had been affected by the flooding.

Floods are an annual problem in Niger as seasonal rains often cause streams and rivers to burst their banks, sweeping away homes and destroying crops.

Niger ranks at the bottom of the United Nations' Human Development Index, with more than 60 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

Most of the country has been hit by the floods, with the exception of the eastern desert region, home to more than 80,000 refugees who have fled violence in neighbouring Nigeria.

The government launched an appeal for aid in mid-August for those affected by the rising waters.

In 2012, floods in Niger killed dozens of people and affected some 500,000 more, causing an estimated 148 million euros ($191 million) of damage, according to official figures.