UNHCR aids cyclone survivors return home

Blantyre, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) handed over 80 metric tons of nonfood relief items to survivors of cyclone Idai in Malawi to, among others, aid them return home.

Close to 2,000 survivors, according to the international humanitarian aid agency, have already benefited from the relief items comprising family tents, plastic tarpaulins, mosquito nets, plastic pails and blankets.

The beneficiaries include households that have already returned to their respective homes and those still in camps but have plans of rebuilding their lives at home.

South Africa based Regional Director for UNHCR, Valentin Tapsoba who on Thursday had a follow up visit to some of the beneficiaries in camps and in their homes said the United Nations agency plans to reach out to an additional 3,500 survivors.

We are bringing more. That is why I am here to identify gaps and needs to make sure we help the government of Malawi.

The people in the camps cannot be here forever. They need to go back to their places of origin and resume their lives. Their needs are immense hence the need for all stakeholders to put their actions together. Don’t forget that after emergency, we need to go for recovery and development, said Tapsoba in Nsanje.

He said after talking to some of the survivors, indications were that most of them want to return to their homes but the challenge has been the startup package.

They are looking for shelter and UNHCR has provided them short term tents that can last for a year.

They however, need a permanent solution to build their houses that can withstand future occurrences, he said.

Commenting on the presence of Mozambicans who crossed the borders into Malawi after cyclone Idai had hit, Tapsoba who is also one of United Nations senior officials, hailed the Malawi government for welcoming and accommodating them in camps.

He said the relief items being provided by the UNHCR are also being extended to the Mozambicans.

We cannot discriminate anyone. If we see vulnerability among people from Malawi and those from Mozambique, we will assist them all, he said.

Nsanje District Commissioner, Michael Chimbalanga said by accommodating the Mozambicans, government’s budget on disaster relief has been strained.

He said though this is the case, the gap has been filled by aid agencies both local and international.

Chimbalanga said the pressure on the camps has eased off following the return of close to 20 percent of the survivors to their homes in Nsanje.

Source: MANA Online