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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Tens of Thousands in Southern Africa Need Help After Cyclone


7Dnews London

Sat, 23 Mar 2019 11:04 GMT

A second week has begun concentrating on efforts to find and help tens of thousands of people after Cyclone Idai, the deadliest cyclone to ever hit the area, has devastated parts of southern Africa.

Members of the Indian and South African militaries are joining aid groups in flying over stretches of central Mozambique, as they look for signs of life and people in need, as reported by AP. 

No one knows how many people are missing. More than 600 people are confirmed dead in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Aid workers say that number is certain to rise as flood waters recede.

The shattered Mozambican city of Beira and other communities are now home to crowded displacement camps, both organized and informal. With communications badly affected by the cyclone and some families separated in the chaos, a programme aimed at reunification is now underway.

Hicham Mandoudi, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Beira, said in a statement: "Every day we discover that the destruction left by Cyclone Idai is worse than we imagined…We are deeply concerned about remote communities that are cut-off by flooding and landslides and are yet to receive any humanitarian assistance. More rain is expected to come, which will compound the suffering of people who have already lost everything." 

The United Nations humanitarian office said that Mozambique's government has formally requested assistance from the international community, opening the door to further international aid efforts. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, March 21st appealed for stepped up support for the victims of Idai, saying the UN and its humanitarian partners are scaling up the response, but "far greater international support is needed."

The UN chief said in a statement that: "with crops destroyed in the breadbasket of Mozambique, more people are at risk of food insecurity in all three countries." 

Beira, the city at the centre of aid efforts for Mozambique, still can only be reached by land or sea. Local fishermen have joined the rescue efforts, ferrying stranded people about 50 or so at a time to the city's beach or port.

With mobile phone communications struggling to return, some residents have lined an overpass known for having a better chance of receiving a signal.

Prices of food and other basic items are doubling, even tripling. People wait in line outside stores, let in one by one in an effort to prevent looting. 

Throughout the region, emergency air efforts focus on spotting stranded people and communities in the hope of dropping aid or plucking those in dire need to safety.

There are signs of life in the inundated landscape, even smoke from some cooking fires. As waters recede, however, aid workers expect the death toll to rise as bodies are found. 

With water and sanitation systems largely destroyed, waterborne diseases are also a growing concern.