Cyclone Idai and the mounting death toll is “yet another alarm bell about the dangers of climate change” UN Secretary-General
António Guterres said on Tuesday, warning that vulnerable countries like Mozambique, would be hit the hardest unless
urgent action is taken by nations across the world.
“Such events are becoming more frequent, more severe and more widespread, and this will only get worse if we do not act
now”, said the UN chief. “In the face of turbo-charged storms, we need revved up climate action”, he added, addressing
correspondents at UN Headquarters in New York.
The Secretary-General has convened a Climate Action Summit
this September, to try and mobilize countries around the urgent need to reduce global warming to well under 2 degrees
Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement
The death toll across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, stands at around 700, but figures are expected to rise, with
hundreds still missing. An estimated three million have been affected, nearly two-thirds of them in Mozambique, where
key port city Beira was “practically razed to the ground” while the farmland interior has been inundated, said Mr.
At least a million children need “urgent assistance”, and “we fear that whole villages have been washed away places we
have yet to reach”, the UN chief added, with reports that $1 billion-worth of infrastructure has been destroyed. He said
citizens of the three southern African nations would need “strong, sustained support”.
On Monday, the UN launched a launched a $281.7 million revised flash appeal
for Mozambique, designating the disaster a “scale-up emergency”, which is the most severe: “I call on the international
community to fund these appeals quickly and fully so that aid agencies can urgently ramp up their responses”, said Mr.
Response from UN and partners ramps up amid devastation
Conditions for survivors of Cyclone Idai remain dire, with devastation enormous and “an extremely high risk of
diarrhoeal diseases like cholera”, the World Health Organization (WHO
) said on Tuesday, briefing reporters in Geneva.
Dr Djamila Cabral, WHO Representative in Mozambique, said that in Beira, Mozambique, more than 100,000 people have lost
their homes and all of their possessions.
In addition, “families, pregnant women (and) babies are living in temporary camps in horrific conditions…without secure
food supplies, or safe drinking water and sanitation”.
At least 1.8 million people need humanitarian assistance in Mozambique alone. Cases of acute watery diarrhoea similar to
cholera, have already been reported among victims.
To prevent an outbreak, WHO is sending 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine to the devastated country that should
arrive later this week. It is also pre-positioning supplies to treat diarrhoeal diseases, including lifesaving
intravenous fluids and diagnostic tests, while also setting up three cholera treatment centres, including an 80-bed
facility in Beira.
To counter a spike in malaria in the coming weeks, WHO is also preparing to provide 900,000 insecticide-treated bed nets
to protect families.
Rapid diagnostic tests and anti-malarial medicine are being sent high-risk areas, too, but this and other health needs
will require “at least” $38 million over the next three months, Dr. Cabral said.
Coordinating food needs for cyclone victims, the World Food Programme (WFP
) is targeting 1.7 million people in Mozambique with food assistance, 732,000 in Malawi and 270,000 people in Zimbabwe.
The assistance also includes logistics and emergency telecoms support. Satellite imagery shows numerous flood plains
including an “inland ocean” the size of Luxembourg, WFP said in a statement. In Mozambique’s Sofala and Manica
provinces, isolated communities are still trapped and awaiting search and rescue teams.
Zimbabwe, Malawi, need emergency funds too
In Zimbabwe, 95 percent of the road networks in affected districts have been damaged, while in Malawi, the cyclone had
limited impact, WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel said.
“This support will require $140 million for life-saving interventions in Mozambique for the next three months; $15.4
million for the next two months in Malawi and $17 million for next three months in Zimbabwe,” he added.
In a separate appeal, covering other needs, such as shelter, clean water and sanitation, the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA
) and humanitarian partners called for $282 million to support victims in Mozambique.
According to OCHA, nearly half a million hectares of crops have been flooded, along with huge damage to homes and
A severe loss of livestock is also expected, leading to worsening food insecurity across the central region of the
country, which was already suffering from poverty and development problems before the cyclone hit.
The appeal covers needs over the next three months and adds to the requirements in the existing Humanitarian Response
Plan for Mozambique which now stands at $337 million.