Cyclone Idai: emergency getting ‘bigger by the hour’, warns UN food agency

WFP/Deborah Nguyen Food distribution in Beira, Mozambique. At this school turned into a shelter, 70 families received food from WFP. Most of them had to leave their homes because they were damaged by the cyclone.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The full scale of the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai in south-west Africa is becoming clearer, the UN said on Tuesday, warning that the emergency “is getting bigger by the hour”.

Five days after the storm made landfall in Mozambique, causing widespread damage and flooding, at least 1,000 people are feared dead there alone.

Victims are reportedly trapped on roofs and clinging to trees awaiting rescue, UN agencies said, while across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, tens of thousands of people have lost their homes, while roads, bridges and crops have been washed away.

“We are talking about a massive disaster right now where hundreds of thousands -in the millions of people – (are) potentially affected,” said Jens Laerke from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “We need all the logistical support that we can possibly get.”

Although floodwaters have reportedly begun to recede in Zimbabwe and Malawi, allowing some people to return home, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that Mozambique is facing “a major humanitarian emergency that is getting bigger by the hour”.

An estimated 1.7 million people were in the path of the cyclone in Mozambique, WFP spokesperson Herve Verhoosel told journalists in Geneva, in addition to the 920,000 people affected in Malawi and “thousands more” impacted in Zimbabwe.

Flooding resembles ‘inland oceans’

Aid access is “the biggest challenge”, the WFP spokesperson insisted, while the agency reported that staff members who flew over the area inundated since the weekend, when two swollen rivers burst their banks, spoke of “inland oceans extending for miles and miles”.

In Mozambique, WFP aims to support 600,000 people affected by the cyclone, which struck with wind speeds in excess of 150 kilometres per hour. In Malawi, the UN agency plans to target 650,000 people with food assistance.

Amid the humanitarian response, heavy rain is continuing and more is forecast, according to Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). “The Mozambican President is quoted as saying they are fearing there are more than 1,000 casualties,” she said. “If these reports, these fears are realized, then we can say that this is one of the worst weather-related disasters – tropical cyclone-related disasters – in the Southern hemisphere.”

Over 900,000 people in Malawi, and 600,000 in Mozambique have already been affected by exceptionally severe flooding this week caused by heavy rains associated with the Tropical Cyclone IDAI.

Thousands fighting for their lives on rooftops, in trees

UN Children’s Fund UNICEF confirmed the scale of the emergency, noting that 260,000 children have been affected in Mozambique, which bore the brunt of Idai.

“Many people are in desperate situations, several thousand are fighting for their lives at the moment sitting on rooftops, in trees and other elevated areas,” said spokesperson Christophe Boulierac. “This includes families and obviously many children.”

Gerald Bourke, WFP’s Regional Communications Officer for Southern Africa, told UN News on Tuesday morning, that the “key concern is for those people who have been stranded, isolated by the flood waters…People that have overflown the area speak of inland oceans, running for mile after mile, with water above tree level.”

Matthew Cochrane, spokesperson for the International federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), underlined the perilous situation, noting that colleagues “talked of flooding perhaps in parts as deep as six metres, covering roofs, covering palm trees covering telephone poles”.

WFP hails ‘incredible pilots’ delivering vital food aid

To date, WFP has coordinated airlifts of high-energy biscuits, water and blankets to people crammed on rooftops and elevated patches of land outside the port city of Beira, where 90 per cent of buildings are damaged, including the agency’s warehouse and port unloading machinery.

“It was very difficult to land a plane like this,” said Mr. Verhoosel. “Can you imagine in an airport, damaged by the water, dark with no light or radio communication with the control tower, nothing. I mean, those pilots are incredible.”

Four tonnes of biscuits are to be delivered by air later on Tuesday, in addition to the 1.2 tonnes dispatched on Monday – part of a 20-tonne consignment flown in from Dubai.

Negotiations are also “at an advanced stage” to bring in two freight aircraft to Beira, including a Hercules C-130, the agency said.

To respond to people’s health needs, Christian Lindmeier from the World Health Organization (WHO) explained that the initial priority is helping those with crush and trauma injuries.

“So for the immediate needs, WHO is positioning health kits, emergency health kits, trauma kits and also cholera kits in order to be able to assist people on the ground, as soon as these kits gets there,” he said.

Longer-term needs will include dealing with a potential rise in waterborne diseases and rebuilding “many destroyed health centres”, the WHO spokesperson added.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Mental health in the COVID-19 pandemic

Commission launches new tool to support digital teaching and learning in schools

OECD sees global growth slowing, as Europe weakens and risks persist

Trump’s pounding of Iran less harsh than expected, leaves arrangement open

EU Presidents lay out priorities for future of Europe

Idea of ‘homogenous’ Polish culture is a myth: UN human rights expert

Education in Emergencies: EU announces record humanitarian funding for 2019 and launches #RaiseYourPencil Campaign

‘Comprehensively include migrants’ or sustainable development won’t happen, warns General Assembly President

What does Tsipras have to offer to the rest of Europe? Is it worth an early advance of €10 billion? Berlin sturdily denies it

‘All efforts must be made’ to ensure peaceful elections for Guinea-Bissau, Security Council hears

Wars have rules: 5 things the UN humanitarian chief wants countries to tackle so human suffering in conflict can be minimized

Writing a greener story in Asia and the Pacific amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Stakeholder capitalism is urgently needed – and the COVID-19 crisis shows us why

Trump doesn’t only target Germany, aims to crack the entire EU

Commission publishes EU Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online continues to deliver results

Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

Factories are no longer the sure route to prosperity. Here’s why

Top officials say UN will support Bahamas’ rescue, relief efforts as Hurricane Dorian churns in Atlantic

UN and African Union in ‘common battle’ for development and climate change financing

3 charts that show how attitudes to climate science vary around the world

The next talent opportunity for the digital workplace? Neurodiversity

Greece at the mercy of ECB while sailing through uncharted waters

How green investment will help Latin America and the world fight climate change

Brunei’s new penal code would enshrine ‘cruel and inhuman punishments’ UN rights chief warns

Why the way of loving closes doors of health?

Commission presents its response to Antisemitism and a survey showing Antisemitism is on the rise in the EU

The MH17 tragedy to put a tombstone on Ukrainian civil war

“If the job market doesn’t exist, then even the most brilliant Youth Guarantee cannot ensure a job to these young people”, European Youth Forum Secretary General Giuseppe Porcaro on another Sting Exclusive

The countries most ready for the global energy transition

Landmine casualties high for third consecutive year despite record funding, latest monitor reports

Draghi rehabs ECB into a tool to support growth and employment; a departure from Teutonic orthodoxy

Militias force nearly 2,000 to leave Libyan capital’s largest shelter for internally-displaced: UNHCR

Here’s how one business leader is tackling injustice: It starts with personal commitment

Free movement of services: Commission takes further action to ensure a well-functioning Single Market for professionals

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission decides to register 2 new initiatives

Conquering COVID-19 through Collaboration

World Malaria Day: 7 things to know about the deadly disease

The EU Parliament blasts the Council about the tax dealings of the wealthy

Five years down the drain

Monsanto lawsuit ruling a ‘significant recognition’ of victims’ human rights, say UN rights experts

Mergers: Commission approves Assa Abloy’s acquisition of Agta Record, subject to conditions

My Mothers

5 ways to break down the barriers for women to access leadership roles

Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, in Brussels - Berlaymont, last week. (Copyright European Union, 2017 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lukasz Kobus)

Amazon, Luxembourg and Ireland hit by EU’s latest turn of the screw over competition

How can we regulate disruptive technologies?

Breaking news: Juncker’s Commission mutant trojan horse is on the loose in Strasbourg

Vulnerable children face ‘dire and dangerous’ situation on Greek island reception centres, UNICEF warns

Nearly four million North Koreans in urgent need, as food production slumps by almost 10 per cent

A record one million Syrians displaced over six months, during six key battles: UN investigators

COVID-19: Save European culture and values, MEPs tell Commission

Improve collection of data on disasters, Secretary-General Guterres urges

Four lessons for a successful switch to value-based healthcare

European Commission adopts rules to ensure a smooth transition to its next President and the next College of Commissioners

As tech disrupts our jobs, it’s not too late to turn pain into gain

Budget Committee backs €2.3 million worth of aid to help 550 redundant media workers in Greece

The Council of Europe adopts Recommendation on young people’s access to rights

MEPs call on EU countries to end precarious employment practices

Why women aren’t allowed to work

From UN Assembly podium, Central African Republic leader appeals for lifting arms embargo

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s