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UN Refugee Agency airlifts relief support to survivors of Cyclone Idai (31.03.2019)

31 March 2019, Harare – the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) handed over to Government today some 80 MT relief items, including family tents, plastic tarpaulins, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, solar lamps and kitchen sets to support 10,000 Zimbabweans affected by cyclone Idai.

“The devastating cyclone has left people in dire need of humanitarian support,” said UNHCR Country Representative Robert Tibagwa while handing over the airlifted relief items at Robert Mugabe International Airport. “UNHCR supplies will help provide shelter and basic items to survivors, including women and children, as they have lost everything.”

UNHCR is part of humanitarian team working in close collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe and other humanitarian partners to ensure people receive the required assistance and are protected from risks and dangers. UNHCR has also deployed a team of emergency experts to support relief efforts.

In Zimbabwe, it has been reported that Tropical Cyclone Idai has displaced an estimated 90,000 people in nine districts mainly in the eastern highlands part of the country. The cyclone has reportedly killed over 200, with some 300 still missing and has affected 270,000 people. Vulnerable people, including women and children, are at risk and in need of relief and recovery support. About 95 per cent of the infrastructure, including schools, roads and bridges have been damaged in Chimanimani districts.

Zimbabwe hosts some 20,000 refugees and asylum-seekers mainly in Tongogara Refugee Camp where some 1060 houses were damaged by Cyclone Idai affecting some 5,300 people. The water and sanitary infrastructure was severely affected leading to a shortage of clean drinking water.

UNHCR is grateful to its corporate partner International Humanitarian City (IHC) which has donated the aid flight.

The airlift is part of UNHCR efforts to provide aid to thousands of people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. A plane carrying UNHCR relief items arrived in Maputo, Mozambique last week. Another flight is on its way to Malawi today (Sunday).

Mozambique: Cyclone Idai & Floods – Flash Update No. 14, 30 March 2019 (30.03.2019)

Malawi: Situation Update, 30 March 2019 (30.03.2019)

Mozambique after the cyclone (28.03.2019)

The United Nations has launched an emergency appeal for US $281 million to save lives and kick-start recovery in Mozambique.

NEW YORK, United States of America, March 28, 2019 – When Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe on 14 March, it was one of the worst weather-related catastrophes in Africa in recent times. The death toll across the three countries is at least 700, with hundreds of people still missing. The devastation has affected 3 million people, nearly two-thirds of them in Mozambique, and this number will rise. One million people across the three countries need life-saving assistance. The cyclone destroyed entire towns and villages, and wiped out hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland on the eve of the next harvest. The United Nations has launched an emergency appeal for US $281 million to save lives and kick-start recovery in Mozambique. Appeals for Malawi and Zimbabwe will be issued in the next few days. Here we document the storm’s impact and the humanitarian response, in Mozambique so far.

Search and rescue coming to a close

Within hours of the cyclone hitting, international search and rescue teams mobilized to join volunteer and Government efforts to rescue and evacuate survivors. The cities of Beira and Buzi were particularly hard-hit. Hundreds of Buzi residents took shelter in the stands of a stadium, where they have slept in the open air for a week, with nowhere to go. Beira City, with a population of over 500,000, and its surrounding villages, were practically razed by the flooding. Electricity to Beira has been cut and all of the roads and bridges destroyed, so the only means of access is via boat or plane.

Aid operations are scaling up

Aid agencies are rapidly scaling up their emergency assistance. We have distributed thousands of emergency kits with food, medicine, water purification gear and shelter to communities that are still stranded by flood waters. We are now rapidly gearing up our food, shelter, health and cholera prevention and protection responses.

Cholera vaccines on their way

Aid agencies are bringing 900,000 oral cholera vaccines into the country to roll out a mass campaign. Stagnant water, lack of hygiene and sanitation provides a perfect breeding ground for cholera and malaria.

Food prices soaring

Tropical Cyclone Idai hit a vast area that is already suffering from poverty, drought and climate change. Early estimates report half a million hectares of crops in Mozambique’s bread basket have been wiped out just before the harvest. Food scarcity is causing prices to soar – in Beira city, the price of some staple foods has risen by 500 per cent. So far, we have reached 100,000 people with food assistance and are scaling up to reach many more.

Rebuilding must begin now

The Government estimates 90,000 homes have been destroyed, and 128,000 people are taking shelter in 154 temporary sites across the country. There is an urgent need to invest in rebuilding from the very get-go, stresses the Government and aid agency heads.

Sheltering in schools

Thousands of displaced families are taking shelter in schools and other public buildings that haven’t been destroyed. Education services need to get up and running as soon as possible, say aid agencies. Hortencia, below said: “My house collapsed. I had to leave in the middle of the night with my children. I was so afraid. The wind was so strong and trees were falling. I wasn’t sure we would survive.”

World Food Programme Executive Director urges more funding for Cyclone-Hit Mozambique (27.03.2019)

BEIRA/MAPUTO – At the end of a two-day visit to Mozambique, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, David Beasley, today said the international community must step up support to victims of the recent cyclone and flooding that have devastated large areas of the country.

After arriving Tuesday in Beira, which was struck by Cyclone Idai on March 14, hitting the port city of half a million people, Beasley overflew the nearby town of Buzi – which had been all but submerged by raging floodwaters – and met survivors receiving airlifted WFP assistance in the isolated village of Guara Guara.

“These people’s lives have been devastated, they have no livelihoods now, they’ve lost their homes, they’ve lost their farms, they’ve lost their crops, they’ve lost loved ones. And they’re going to need help at least for the next six to 12 months to get back on their feet,” Beasley said. “We need the international community to rally behind the victims of this storm with major financial support, so WFP can help the survivors of Cyclone Idai.”

An estimated 400,000 hectares of crops – primarily maize – were washed away just weeks ahead of the main April–May harvest. Other key sources of income, like livestock and fisheries, have also been badly affected.

Victims will need sustained support until they can get back on their feet – in the case of subsistence farmers, until the next main harvest in mid-2020. “We need to work together with the Government of Mozambique and the communities to ensure rehabilitation is done in a way that will prevent this devastation happening again, build better everything: houses, schools and health centres to stand the shocks,” added Beasley.

The disaster has demonstrated how vulnerable communities are to climate shocks and will inevitably push up already high malnutrition rates.

Since the cyclone hit, WFP has provided food assistance to more than 150,000 people, intends to reach half a million in the coming weeks, and, as soon as possible, all 1.7 million people urgently in need of food.

Displaced cyclone victims sheltering in scores of schools and churches in Beira and surrounding areas have received easy-to-prepare fortified blended food. Sixty metric tons of high energy biscuits airlifted into the country have been dropped by helicopter to people stranded by the floodwaters.

With 86,000 metric tons of commodities needed in the next three months, WFP is procuring large quantities of cereals, vegetable oil and fortified blended foods elsewhere in southern Africa, and shipping and trucking them into Mozambique. As conditions permit, WFP will increase local procurement.

As lead of the global humanitarian logistics “cluster” that helps coordinate the relief effort, WFP has deployed to Beira three MI-8 transport helicopters and a freight aircraft to support the broader humanitarian response. As lead of the emergency telecommunications cluster, WFP has been working to re-establish vital networks that can accelerate the response by government and humanitarian agencies.

Almost 60 additional WFP staff have been deployed to Mozambique, and 45 more are on the way: emergency coordinators, air operations managers and programming, logistics and telecommunications experts.

WFP requires US$140 million for the next three months.

On Wednesday in Maputo, Beasley met President Nyusi, key government ministers and donor representatives. “In these last two days, I was heartbroken by the devastation, but I also saw courage and determination on the faces of the Mozambican people”, he said. “The terrible destruction cannot dampen their spirits. WFP will stay with them, scaling up to help as many as possible.

“I urge the international community to respond quickly and generously, because lives are truly in the balance right now.”

The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media, @wfp_mozambique

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org(mailto:firstname.lastname@wfp.org)):
Gerald Bourke, WFP/Beira, Mob/whatsapp +27 82 90 81 417
Deborah Nguyen, WFP/Beira, Mob: +258 86 505 6300 / whatsapp +33 652 89 76 44
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 2321, Mob. +39 346 7600521
Herve Verhoosel, WFP/Geneva, Mob. +21 798428057
Francis Mwanza, WFP/London, Tel. +44 (0)20 3857 7411, Mob. +44 (0)7968 008474
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-653-1149, Mob. +1-202-774-4026
Steve Taravella, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-556-6909, Mob. +1-202-770-5993

Cyclone Idai briefing: Dr Djamila Cabral, WHO Representative in Mozambique (27.03.2019)

Last Friday I visited Beira, one of the worst-affected areas that was hit by Tropical Cyclone Idai.

The devastation is enormous

More than 100 000 people have lost their homes and all of their possessions. Families, pregnant women, babies are living in temporary camps in horrific conditions, without secure food supplies, or safe drinking water and sanitation.

Around 55 health centres have been severely damaged. I visited the central hospital in Beira where I saw the direct impact of the cyclone. The flooding had damaged essential equipment and the facility is unable to receive patients during this crucial time. As an example, surgical theatre and nursery completely damaged.

Official death toll is more than 446 but we expect the real numbers to be much higher. 1.8 million people in Mozambique need urgent humanitarian assistance.

For WHO, health is our number one priority now

We must not let these people suffer a second disaster through a serious disease outbreak or inability to access essential health services. They have suffered enough.

WHO’s Director General, Dr Tedros has called for a “no regrets” approach – this means that we are doing whatever it takes to address the crisis, investing all the available resources now to save lives and protect health.

We are building up a surge team of over 40 staff from across the Organization, with expertise in logistics, epidemiology, and outbreak prevention and response.

We have a number of key priorities right now. First to set up an early warning disease detection system so that we can respond rapidly as soon as an outbreak is suspected. Then we need to ensure that, as resources come in, they are immediately put to work.

There is increased risk of diseases

We know that after an event like this, there is extremely high risk of diarrhoeal diseases like cholera. WHO is positioning supplies to prepare to treat diarrhoeal diseases – lifesaving intravenous fluids, diagnostic tests, 900 000 doses of oral cholera vaccines are on their way from the global emergency stockpile. We are providing our expertise to set up 3 cholera treatment centres, including an 80-bed treatment centre in Beira.

We are also preparing for a spike in malaria in the coming weeks by procuring 900 000 insecticide-treated bednets to protect all affected families, and ensure rapid diagnostic tests and antimalarials are positioned to high-risk areas.

And we are working at top speed to ensure that the people of Mozambique can access essential health services during this crisis to ensure that:

  • people with HIV, TB or diabetes continue to receive their medications
  • that thousands of pregnant women are able to receive care for safe childbirth
  • that children receive treatment for common infections and are screened (and treated if needed) for acute malnutrition
  • that people in need receive psycho-social support and protection from gender-based violence.

The coming weeks are crucial for WHO in Mozambique. The health sector needs at least $38 million over the next 3 months for the health response to this humanitarian crisis.

Operation Wealth Creation Handles No Procurement, No Money (26.03.2019)

UNHCR rushing staff, supplies to assist people affected by Cyclone Idai (25.03.2019)

UNHCR efforts demonstrate solidarity with the people of the region who have for decades generously hosted refugees and shared their limited resources with them.

PRETORIA, South Africa, March 25, 2019 – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is working with governments and humanitarian partners in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi to provide relief to the survivors of the Tropical Cyclone Idai which struck the east coast of southern Africa on 14 and 15 March.

We are sending our emergency response teams – making available our expertise and staff, and aid supplies to assist those affected by the disaster without recent precedent in the region.

UNHCR efforts demonstrate solidarity with the people of the region who have for decades generously hosted refugees and shared their limited resources with them.

Our teams will support the on-going efforts to respond to the urgent life-saving needs of the affected people, including refugees.

We are mobilizing emergency shelter and core relief items from our global stockpiles to assist some 30,000 people in dire need, including affected refugees in Zimbabwe and their host communities, and the local population displaced by the cyclone.

The affected population is in dire need of basic relief supplies, food, health services and shelter. Our relief items will include family tents, shelter plastic tarpaulins, sleeping mats, cooking sets and utensils, Jerry cans, buckets, mosquito nets, solar lamps and soap.

In Mozambique, the most affected country, the government has declared a national emergency as the death toll from the effects of the Cyclone climbs above the reported 242 and is expected to exceed 1,000. The country is currently home to some 25,000 refugees – who have fortunately not been directly affected.

In Zimbabwe, the government has declared a state of disaster, and 104 people are reported to have died as a result of the cyclone. Two districts are reported to have been severely affected, including Chipinge District, host to Tongogara refugee camp. The camp currently has some 13,000 refugees, many of whom have suffered injuries, but no fatalities.

UNHCR is conducting rapid assessments in Tongogara camp to determine the extent of the damage, however, based on available information 2,000 refugee houses, mainly built using mud bricks, were completely or partially damaged. Over 600 latrines have collapsed, and borehole water is feared to be contaminated due to flood waters. There is a real danger of an outbreak of waterborne diseases.

The refugee host communities have also been affected, and it is estimated that 100,000, Zimbabwean residents of Chipinge District, including some 20,000 who live near the refugee camp, are in immediate need of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

In Malawi, the government has also declared a state of national disaster, and 84 people are reported to have died. At least 15 districts and two cities have been impacted, with approximately 840,000 people affected nationally by the floods.

About 94,000 people are displaced and sheltering in makeshift sites for internally displaced people. Refugee locations in Malawi were not directly affected.

More than 4,400 Mozambican nationals – including women and children, have been forced to seek safety from the Cyclone’s devastation in Nsanje district, in Malawi. We plan to assist both Mozambican new arrivals and their Malawian hosts.

UNHCR has decades-long experience speedily responding to refugee humanitarian emergencies around the world.

Statement by the SADC Chairperson, His Excellency Dr. Hage g. Geingob, on the effects of cyclone Idai in the SADC region (24.03.2019)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) notes with great sadness the devastation caused by the recent tropical Cyclone Idai in the SADC region, in particular in the Republics of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The economic cost and social impact of the Cyclone to the affected countries, and indeed the entire region, is immeasurable.

The Cyclone, which killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands others, left a trail of destruction to land and infrastructure affecting accessibility and provision of health care and welfare to the affected communities. SADC expresses heartfelt condolences to the people and Governments of the three countries, and indeed to the bereaved families.

SADC appreciates the overwhelming support extended to the communities by some Member States, cooperating partners, and most importantly by citizens of the three countries who combined efforts to assist their fellow nationals. SADC stands in solidarity with the three countries as they recover from the tragedy. In this regard, SADC has contributed a total of US$500,000 as follows; US$200,000 to Mozambique; US$150,000 to Malawi; and US$150,000 to Zimbabwe. We call upon all our partners, within and beyond the region, to continue supporting the rescue operations, and in providing the needed humanitarian assistance.

In view of the increased occurrence of climate-related catastrophes, such as cyclones, floods and droughts, around the world and especially in the SADC region, SADC reiterates its call for joint global efforts to reduce global warming and the impacts of climate change and variability, while stepping up efforts to enhance adaptive capacities of developing countries in line with the spirit of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) and Article 8(4) of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

I call upon SADC Member States to re-double their efforts to strengthen disaster risk management capacities, as emphasized in the SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy adopted in 2016, and to fully operationalise the necessary collaborative mechanisms to ensure rapid joint and concerted responses to disasters.

Dr. Hage G. Geingob

President of the Republic of Namibia, and Chairperson of SADC

21 March 2019

Idai disaster: Stranded victims still need rescue from heavy rains as UN scales up response (21.03.2019)

The World Food Programme (WFP) said that people are still stranded on rooftops after the storm began its sweep through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe six days ago.

NEW YORK, United States of America, March 21, 2019 – Dire conditions persist in vast areas of southern Africa affected by Cyclone Idai as heavy rain continues to cause “massive destruction”, the UN said on Thursday, while aid teams scale up efforts to reach those most in need.

Warning that the situation is likely to deteriorate, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that people are still stranded on rooftops after the storm began its sweep through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe six days ago.

In Mozambique alone, the agency is seeking more than $121 million to help 1.7 million people affected through the next three months, WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel said, after the Government declared a state of national emergency.

Sofala and Manica provinces were worst-hit, and extensive damage has been caused to major roads and bridges which are now impassable.

Power networks have also been severed and are unlikely to be restored for several weeks, while thousands have lost their homes, Mr. Verhoosel told journalists in Geneva, noting that WFP drones are being used to help locate stranded populations.

Thousands isolated, entire villages ‘wiped out’

According to Mozambique’s National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), more than 100,000 people are still “isolated” and without assistance in Chimoio, Dombe and other locations in Manica province.

The situation “is likely to deteriorate even more and the numbers of people affected is expected to increase as it is raining there as we speak”, Mr. Verhoosel added.

To date, WFP has provided food assistance to more than 20,000 people in Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia; it aims to reach 600,000 people in the next four weeks.

But with aerial assessments over Mozambique’s Buzi valley showing “entire villages wiped out”, Mr. Verhoosel stressed that needs are likely to far outstrip initial estimates.

“It is clear that the number of 600,000 will definitely go up in the coming days,” Mr. Verhoosel said. “That has of course (an) implication on cost. If we help 600,000 people for three months, that is a cost of $42 million. If we need to help up to 1.7 million people for three months, that will be a cost of $121.5 million. Obviously, we don’t have that money today.”

Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani district hardest-hit

In Zimbabwe, 200,000 people urgently need food assistance in the coming three months, according to WFP.

Conditions in the hardest-hit district, Chimanimani, are severe, Mr Verhoosel explained, with 90 per cent of property significantly damaged.

Chimanimani is located in Manicaland province in eastern Zimbabwe, where heavy rains in both Manicaland and neighbouring Masvingo province to the south “continue to cause massive destruction”, according to WFP.

To respond to urgent needs, the agency is seeking more than $5 million to provide food, air and logistical support for the flood response.

More than $10 million required for Malawi flood response

In Malawi, where Cyclone Idai had a limited impact, 920,000 have been affected by flooding that began on 5 March, according to the Government.

People are beginning to return home and WFP has started food distributions to the worst-hit districts of Nsanje, Phalombe, Chikwawa and Zomba.

In the next two months, the agency plans to reach 650,000 people, an operation that will cost $10.3 million.

Underscoring the huge logistical challenges of the aid operation, Mr. Verhoosel explained that a WFP airplane reached the Mozambican port of Beira soon after the disaster happened, in extremely difficult conditions.

Aid has to be unloaded by hand, ‘box by box’

“That was probably the first cargo (plane) to land,” he said. “The food from that cargo is not yet fully distributed. The problem that we have is more the access…because most of the people are on rooftops or in a place that we cannot access by road.”

Mr. Verhoosel also highlighted ongoing challenges in Beira, where 90 per cent of the port city was damaged by Idai.

“In the port for the moment, you have no infrastructure,” he said, adding that the situation was the same at the airport, where people had to unload food by hand, “box by box”.

“In Beira, the level of water is not the same as in the countryside… inland, the problem is that you have basically water all around,” Mr Verhoosel said.

UNFPA protecting health and well-being of women

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), is providing humanitarian assistance to Mozambique in the aftermath of Idai, to protect the health and well-being of women, through services for sexual and reproductive health and prevention of and response to gender-based violence (GBV).

Given the urgent needs, UNFPA said it was providing the following relief:

  • Supporting 19 mobile clinics in hard-to-reach areas.
  • Providing 2,000 dignity kits to the most vulnerable women and girls.
  • Providing 19 tents for mobile SRH services.
  • Providing 240 emergency reproductive kits to cover the needs of more than 300,000 affected people, including delivery kits for communities and hospitals, post-rape treatment kits, and kits for prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.
  • Supporting GBV case management and psychosocial services for GBV survivors.

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