"We have much to do," says UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Chokwe
Maputo, 31 January 2013 - “Basic needs are being met, such as food, water, and shelter, despite very difficult conditions in many areas of the flooding,” says United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Jennifer Topping at the end of her visit on Wednesday to Chiaquelane camp, where about 70,000 have sought refuge from the flooding of the Limpopo River.
Ms. Topping travelled to the camp together with UNICEF National Goodwill Ambassador Stewart Sukuma and the representative for UNICEF Mozambique Jesper Morch, who also was optimistic about the response.
“Contingency plans by the UN and by the Government of Mozambique are working well, we are up to speed and working in a timely manner,” said Mr. Morch.
They both agreed however that much more needed to be done to make sure adequate help was reaching those who needed it the most.
“We still have areas that are inaccessible,” said Ms. Topping. “Not everyone is receiving help and demands are very high. There is much work ahead for all of us.”
To date, about 150,000 people have been displaced by the flooding of the Limpopo River in Gaza Province, and are now living in temporary settlements in the area, including in Chiaquelane, which has the largest number of displaced.
A drive through Chokwe, hit hard by the flooding, revealed a near-deserted city, but for a few residents who either never left or are back to begin the long, arduous job of cleaning up their homes and neighbourhoods.
But receding waters in the city are leaving mud, dirt, and animal cadavers behind, with the risk of disease becoming a major concern.
“Together with government we are treating this as a top priority but we are under-resourced,” said Ms. Topping. “Our aid supplies in-country are becoming depleted and we will need additional funds to make sure we have what we need to help people recover from this terrible tragedy,” she said.
This week, the UN Humanitarian Country Team in Mozambique has requested the release of emergency UN funds totalling about $5 million to cover the costs of the initial phase of the humanitarian effort. More funds will be requested from the wider donor community early next week.
Patricia Nakell Communication Specialist UNICEF Mozambique