Daily Archives: March 21, 2019

Rescue, Relief Efforts Underway in Cyclone-Hit Southern Africa

The Red Cross says it its deploying two major emergency response units to the port city of Beira in Mozambique to provide services for thousands of people affected by last week’s Cyclone Idai, one of the most destructive storms to hit southern Africa in decades.

One unit is expected to provide basic sanitation facilities for up to 20,000 people, and the other is expected to produce as much as 225,000 liters of clean water each day, enough to help 15,000 people struggling to survive the massive flooding that has followed the storm.

Jamie LeSueur, head of Red Cross operations in Mozambique, said in a statement that aid workers are most concerned about preventing the spread of waterborne disease. She said the emergency response deliveries will help protect against that.

More help is needed, and we are continuing to do all we can to bring in more resources and reach more people, she said.

Helicopters are conducting food drops over villages that were destroyed and cut off from the outside world after the cyclone hit Beira, then swept inland to neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi. Aid officials say an untold number of survivors are clinging to treetops or are trapped on rooftops of houses that remain submerged by floodwaters.

Death toll expected to increase

The combined death toll in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi has risen to at least 437 people, a number that is expected to climb as the floodwaters recede and search crews enter the damaged areas.

The U.N. says the official death tolls from the governments are: Mozambique, 242; Zimbabwe, 39; and Malawi, 56.

President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique has said he expects the death toll to exceed 1,000 in his nation alone. Mozambique began three days of official mourning Wednesday.

Aid agencies said they were prepared for the cyclone but not the massive floods that followed. Mozambique was hardest hit as a result of rivers flowing downstream from its neighbors.

In Beira, Manuel Jeque Francisco said he hopes to rebuild the private Young Leaders School that he directs. It serves 150 students from preschool through third grade.

Since my school was all destroyed, the 30-year-old told VOA in a phone interview, he has begun a fundraising campaign on his Facebook page.

Just help us bring back the smiles of our students, he asked.

Aid donations

The U.N. World Food Program said it was transporting enough aid for 600,000 people across the three nations. The U.N. said it has allocated $20 million from its central emergency response fund and urged other donors to contribute.

Now that the flood waters are coming down, we are shifting to a different stage in the response, said Gemma Connell, the head of office of the U.N.’s humanitarian regional office for Southern and Eastern Africa. This stage is that we have to get the response that we can to everyone in need through a combination of air and on ground, but we have to do that cognizant of the restraints we face. She said aid workers need fuel and other essentials to keep the response operation running smoothly.

The African Union has contributed $350,000 to the three storm-stricken countries. The European Union announced an initial aid package valued at nearly $4 million. Britain and the United Arab Emirates have also promised aid. The Indian Defense Forces have sent a medical team and South Africa’s Air Force has been assisting with search and rescue operations.

Cyclone Idai Flood Zones

The U.S. State Department said the United States is supporting relief efforts in coordination with our partners. The U.S. Agency for International Development said in a statement Wednesday that it has mobilized $700,000 in total assistance to support emergency water, sanitation, hygiene and shelter needs in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Eye-witness accounts

In Zimbabwe’s hard-hit eastern province of Manicaland, a teacher in the city and district of Chimanimani said the cyclone has left him totally traumatized at the moment.

The man, who declined to give his name in his voicemail account for VOA’s Zimbabwe Service, said he was sleeping when the rain began during the night. Then came strong winds, he said.

That wind is what brought the heavy volume of water. I don’t know how we managed to escape, but we managed to survive with the kids, but it was tough. There were other people who were with us at the school. It hurt, I don’t want to lie to you!

The cyclone also has uprooted Mai Manzu, whose home was in Buhera, another district in Manicaland.

My house was taken by Cyclone Idai, she said in a voicemail, adding that her uncle also lost his home. Both had been staying in Gutu to help ailing relatives. While they were gone, Everything has been washed away, including the food.

While Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his administration have faced criticism over an alleged lack of preparedness for and slow response to the crisis, a caller in Bulawayo expressed only gratitude.

Really, they are trying and the guys are on the ground, trying to do everything, a man named Mokem said in a WhatsApp voicemail to VOA’s Zimbabwe Service. … But of course there are some people who will always find wrong things out of everything you’ve done. I want to thank the government of Zimbabwe, I want to thank Mnangagwa for the effort. I mean, it’s evident that he’s trying, left, right and center, to help the situation.

Source: Voice of America

Rescue, Relief Efforts Underway in Cyclone-Hit Southern Africa

The Red Cross says it its deploying two major emergency response units to the port city of Beira in Mozambique to provide services for thousands of people affected by last week’s Cyclone Idai, one of the most destructive storms to hit southern Africa in decades.

One unit is expected to provide basic sanitation facilities for up to 20,000 people, and the other is expected to produce as much as 225,000 liters of clean water each day, enough to help 15,000 people struggling to survive the massive flooding that has followed the storm.

Jamie LeSueur, head of Red Cross operations in Mozambique, said in a statement that aid workers are most concerned about preventing the spread of waterborne disease. She said the emergency response deliveries will help protect against that.

More help is needed, and we are continuing to do all we can to bring in more resources and reach more people, she said.

Helicopters are conducting food drops over villages that were destroyed and cut off from the outside world after the cyclone hit Beira, then swept inland to neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi. Aid officials say an untold number of survivors are clinging to treetops or are trapped on rooftops of houses that remain submerged by floodwaters.

Death toll expected to increase

The combined death toll in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi has risen to at least 437 people, a number that is expected to climb as the floodwaters recede and search crews enter the damaged areas.

The U.N. says the official death tolls from the governments are: Mozambique, 242; Zimbabwe, 39; and Malawi, 56.

President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique has said he expects the death toll to exceed 1,000 in his nation alone. Mozambique began three days of official mourning Wednesday.

Aid agencies said they were prepared for the cyclone but not the massive floods that followed. Mozambique was hardest hit as a result of rivers flowing downstream from its neighbors.

In Beira, Manuel Jeque Francisco said he hopes to rebuild the private Young Leaders School that he directs. It serves 150 students from preschool through third grade.

Since my school was all destroyed, the 30-year-old told VOA in a phone interview, he has begun a fundraising campaign on his Facebook page.

Just help us bring back the smiles of our students, he asked.

Aid donations

The U.N. World Food Program said it was transporting enough aid for 600,000 people across the three nations. The U.N. said it has allocated $20 million from its central emergency response fund and urged other donors to contribute.

Now that the flood waters are coming down, we are shifting to a different stage in the response, said Gemma Connell, the head of office of the U.N.’s humanitarian regional office for Southern and Eastern Africa. This stage is that we have to get the response that we can to everyone in need through a combination of air and on ground, but we have to do that cognizant of the restraints we face. She said aid workers need fuel and other essentials to keep the response operation running smoothly.

The African Union has contributed $350,000 to the three storm-stricken countries. The European Union announced an initial aid package valued at nearly $4 million. Britain and the United Arab Emirates have also promised aid. The Indian Defense Forces have sent a medical team and South Africa’s Air Force has been assisting with search and rescue operations.

Cyclone Idai Flood Zones

The U.S. State Department said the United States is supporting relief efforts in coordination with our partners. The U.S. Agency for International Development said in a statement Wednesday that it has mobilized $700,000 in total assistance to support emergency water, sanitation, hygiene and shelter needs in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Eye-witness accounts

In Zimbabwe’s hard-hit eastern province of Manicaland, a teacher in the city and district of Chimanimani said the cyclone has left him totally traumatized at the moment.

The man, who declined to give his name in his voicemail account for VOA’s Zimbabwe Service, said he was sleeping when the rain began during the night. Then came strong winds, he said.

That wind is what brought the heavy volume of water. I don’t know how we managed to escape, but we managed to survive with the kids, but it was tough. There were other people who were with us at the school. It hurt, I don’t want to lie to you!

The cyclone also has uprooted Mai Manzu, whose home was in Buhera, another district in Manicaland.

My house was taken by Cyclone Idai, she said in a voicemail, adding that her uncle also lost his home. Both had been staying in Gutu to help ailing relatives. While they were gone, Everything has been washed away, including the food.

While Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his administration have faced criticism over an alleged lack of preparedness for and slow response to the crisis, a caller in Bulawayo expressed only gratitude.

Really, they are trying and the guys are on the ground, trying to do everything, a man named Mokem said in a WhatsApp voicemail to VOA’s Zimbabwe Service. … But of course there are some people who will always find wrong things out of everything you’ve done. I want to thank the government of Zimbabwe, I want to thank Mnangagwa for the effort. I mean, it’s evident that he’s trying, left, right and center, to help the situation.

Source: Voice of America

South Sudan Spends Millions on Cars, Homes Instead of Peace

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN South Sudan’s committee overseeing the fragile transition from civil war has approved almost $185 million in spending on vehicles, food and home renovations while the country’s peace deal suffers from an alleged lack of funds, according to internal documents seen by The Associated Press.

As the East African nation emerges from a five-year conflict that killed almost 400,000 people and displaced millions, experts warn that the government’s lack of financial transparency will gut the confidence of international donors who have been encouraged to donate to the peace transition fund. Some already have; Japan has given $1 million.

The internal government documents show that on Nov. 5, two months after warring parties signed the peace deal, the committee that includes government and opposition representatives authorized payments for 1,000 vehicles and food including 50,000 tons of sorghum to be delivered to the capital, Juba, and President Salva Kiir’s home state of Bahr el Ghazal.

The documents also show that in December and January the committee authorized more than $135,000 to renovate the homes of first Vice President Taban Deng Gai and the late revolutionary leader John Garang.

The authorizations reveal yet more tensions under a peace deal that calls for the formerly warring sides to knit together into a single, functional government by May. That’s when opposition leader Riek Machar is expected to return to South Sudan to once again become the president’s deputy � an arrangement that has collapsed in fighting in the past.

Henry Odwar, deputy chairman for the opposition and the committee’s deputy, told the AP he had tried to stop the authorization of payment for home renovations but government representatives approved them anyway.

The November authorizations for cars and food were never even presented to the committee, he said.

“If any transaction has taken place where hefty amounts are doled out, then this is yet another proof of corruption,” Odwar said.

Green for Logistic Services, the Dubai-based company contracted to deliver the 1,000 vehicles, confirmed it had agreed to the deal with South Sudan’s chairman of the committee but said the company’s bank later cancelled the offer, citing “security instability in the country,” managing director Dip Sheth told the AP.

South Sudan’s government has promised to inject more than $1.4 million into the peace transition fund, which is separate from the country’s annual budget, but to date it had deposited only $400,000, he said.

Government officials and other committee members did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Martin Elia Lomuro, South Sudan’s minister of cabinet affairs and a committee member, last month defended the use of peace funds for renovating homes, telling the AP that there’s money to spend on accommodation for the people coming to run the country.”

It is “apparent that until now only a very small part of the resources available in South Sudan are being used in support of the peace process,” Germany’s ambassador to South Sudan, Jan Hendrik van Thiel, told the AP.

One high-ranking opposition official with close knowledge of the peace process asserted that money is available for the peace transition fund from South Sudan’s oil revenues but the government doesn’t want to spend it. He spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of his safety.

Local activists called the committee’s spending habits disturbing in a country where the economy has long collapsed and where South Sudan’s government says 1.5 million people are on the brink of starvation.

“Public officials go months without salaries while political figures’ cars are expensively repaired. Furthermore, politicians keep demanding donors to fund peace,” said Edmund Yakani, executive director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, a local civil society group.

“This is hypocrisy of the highest order,” said Jacob Chol, senior political analyst and professor at the University of Juba. “Spending monies recklessly and begging others, what a shame.”

Source: Voice of America

Aid agencies struggle to rescue Mozambique cyclone victims

Aid workers raced on Wednesday to help survivors and meet spiralling humanitarian needs in three southern African countries battered by the region’s worst storm in years.

Five days after tropical cyclone Idai cut a swathe through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the confirmed death toll stood at more than 300 and hundreds of thousands of lives were at risk, officials said.

Mozambique, where the monster storm made landfall early last Friday, is reeling.

“We’ve thousands of people… in roofs and trees waiting for rescue,” Caroline Haga, spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said.

“We are running out of time. People have been waiting for rescue for more than three days now,” she told AFP in the storm-ravaged coastal city of Beira.

She added: “Unfortunately, we can’t pick up all the people, so our priority are children, pregnant women, injured people.”

Survivor Aunicia Jose, 24, speaking in the district of Buzi near Beira, said, “The situation is very bad, we haven’t eaten since Thursday, until today.

“We are sleeping outside, everything is destroyed, our houses are destroyed, everything is gone, we have recovered nothing.”

World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman Deborah Nguyen told AFP in Beira that “the priority today is to rush to rescue people trapped in the flooded areas” as much as organising temporary shelter for those rescued.

“The situation has not really improved. In Buzi, the villages are still under water but the good news is that there are many rescue teams working all day long.

“Relief operations are progressing, but there is still a lot of work.”

The UN is targeting to help some 600,000 people in coming weeks.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said on Tuesday that 202 people had died, according to the latest toll, and nearly 350,000 people were at risk.

In Zimbabwe, the death toll stood at 100 on Wednesday but was expected to surge to 300, while up to 15,000 people are estimated to have been hit by the storm.

In Malawi, nearly a million people have been affected and more than 80,000 forced from their homes, according to the UN.

– Flood shock –

Aid agencies said they were prepared for the cyclone which made landfall early Friday, but not for the massive floods that followed.

Mozambique bore the brunt from rivers that flow downstream from its neighbours.

“No one was prepared for the floods. The cyclone caused torrential rains in Zimbabwe and Malawi and all the water came here,” said Haga.

Beira airport which was partially damaged by the storm and temporarily shut, had reopened to become the relief operations hub but is proving not large enough.

Air force personnel from Mozambique and South Africa have been drafted in to fly rescue missions and distribute aid which can only be airlifted as roads out of Beira have been destroyed.

A government worker who asked not be identified spoke from a roadside after he was rescued by boat in Nhamatanda, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) northwest of Beira, saying “this is the first time our generation has seen something like this”.

Climate expert John Mutter, a professor at the Earth Institute at New York’s Columbia University, said the heavy toll was partly explained by the infrequency of such weather events in southern Africa.

“Mozambique and Zimbabwe are essentially unprepared. They both have weak governance that, honestly, focuses on many more pressing things (as they would see it). And because cyclones are so rare in this part of the world, so preparedness is minimal,” Mutter told AFP.

– ‘Entire village washed away’ –

In Zimbabwe, at least 217 people are listed as missing in Chimanimani in Manicaland, an eastern province which borders Mozambique.

The district remains cut off after roads were swallowed by massive sinkholes and bridges were ripped to pieces by flash floods — a landscape that Defence Minister Perrance Shiri said “resembles the aftermath of a full-scale war”.

Families were using hoes to dig through mounds of soil in search of their missing relatives, an AFP correspondent saw.

After visiting some of the victims in Chimanimani, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said “a tragedy has visited us”.

“The last place we visited, where three main rivers merge, an entire village was washed away. I think those are the bodies which are now being found in Mozambique,” he said.

The three countries are some of the poorest in the region and depend heavily on foreign aid.

In Rome, Pope Francis expressed “my pain and my closeness” for those caught up in the disaster.

“I entrust the many victims and their families to the mercy of God and I implore comfort and support for those affected by this calamity,” he said, addressing thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

Aid agencies struggle to rescue Mozambique cyclone victims

Aid workers raced on Wednesday to help survivors and meet spiralling humanitarian needs in three southern African countries battered by the region’s worst storm in years.

Five days after tropical cyclone Idai cut a swathe through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the confirmed death toll stood at more than 300 and hundreds of thousands of lives were at risk, officials said.

Mozambique, where the monster storm made landfall early last Friday, is reeling.

“We’ve thousands of people… in roofs and trees waiting for rescue,” Caroline Haga, spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said.

“We are running out of time. People have been waiting for rescue for more than three days now,” she told AFP in the storm-ravaged coastal city of Beira.

She added: “Unfortunately, we can’t pick up all the people, so our priority are children, pregnant women, injured people.”

Survivor Aunicia Jose, 24, speaking in the district of Buzi near Beira, said, “The situation is very bad, we haven’t eaten since Thursday, until today.

“We are sleeping outside, everything is destroyed, our houses are destroyed, everything is gone, we have recovered nothing.”

World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman Deborah Nguyen told AFP in Beira that “the priority today is to rush to rescue people trapped in the flooded areas” as much as organising temporary shelter for those rescued.

“The situation has not really improved. In Buzi, the villages are still under water but the good news is that there are many rescue teams working all day long.

“Relief operations are progressing, but there is still a lot of work.”

The UN is targeting to help some 600,000 people in coming weeks.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said on Tuesday that 202 people had died, according to the latest toll, and nearly 350,000 people were at risk.

In Zimbabwe, the death toll stood at 100 on Wednesday but was expected to surge to 300, while up to 15,000 people are estimated to have been hit by the storm.

In Malawi, nearly a million people have been affected and more than 80,000 forced from their homes, according to the UN.

– Flood shock –

Aid agencies said they were prepared for the cyclone which made landfall early Friday, but not for the massive floods that followed.

Mozambique bore the brunt from rivers that flow downstream from its neighbours.

“No one was prepared for the floods. The cyclone caused torrential rains in Zimbabwe and Malawi and all the water came here,” said Haga.

Beira airport which was partially damaged by the storm and temporarily shut, had reopened to become the relief operations hub but is proving not large enough.

Air force personnel from Mozambique and South Africa have been drafted in to fly rescue missions and distribute aid which can only be airlifted as roads out of Beira have been destroyed.

A government worker who asked not be identified spoke from a roadside after he was rescued by boat in Nhamatanda, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) northwest of Beira, saying “this is the first time our generation has seen something like this”.

Climate expert John Mutter, a professor at the Earth Institute at New York’s Columbia University, said the heavy toll was partly explained by the infrequency of such weather events in southern Africa.

“Mozambique and Zimbabwe are essentially unprepared. They both have weak governance that, honestly, focuses on many more pressing things (as they would see it). And because cyclones are so rare in this part of the world, so preparedness is minimal,” Mutter told AFP.

– ‘Entire village washed away’ –

In Zimbabwe, at least 217 people are listed as missing in Chimanimani in Manicaland, an eastern province which borders Mozambique.

The district remains cut off after roads were swallowed by massive sinkholes and bridges were ripped to pieces by flash floods — a landscape that Defence Minister Perrance Shiri said “resembles the aftermath of a full-scale war”.

Families were using hoes to dig through mounds of soil in search of their missing relatives, an AFP correspondent saw.

After visiting some of the victims in Chimanimani, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said “a tragedy has visited us”.

“The last place we visited, where three main rivers merge, an entire village was washed away. I think those are the bodies which are now being found in Mozambique,” he said.

The three countries are some of the poorest in the region and depend heavily on foreign aid.

In Rome, Pope Francis expressed “my pain and my closeness” for those caught up in the disaster.

“I entrust the many victims and their families to the mercy of God and I implore comfort and support for those affected by this calamity,” he said, addressing thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

Source: Seychelles News Agency