The following statement was issued today by Theo-Ben Gurirab (Namibia), President of the General Assembly:
Madagascar is the latest country to fall victim to the ravages of nature, this time from severe floods caused by twin cyclones that have struck that island nation in the past month. Hundreds of thousands of Madagascans affected by the swollen waters are suffering dire hardships. Moreover, this natural disaster has exacerbated the country's long-running cholera epidemic.
Natural disasters, as we all know, are a phenomenon over which no nation has control, as witnessed by the unprecedented floods that are devastating Mozambique and other countries in southern Africa, also as a result of Cyclones Eline and Gloria.
The Madagascan Government has asked aid agencies for food, medicine, blankets and water purification tablets to cope with the humanitarian catastrophe, and already the United Nations World Food Programme has responded, delivering aid to people in the worst-affected areas. But tens of thousands more need urgent relief assistance.
On behalf of the members of the General Assembly and on my own behalf, I wish to extend to the Government and the people of Madagascar our deepest sympathy for the tragic loss of lives and extensive material damage. I also express the hope that the international community, which has begun responding to the Secretary- General's initial appeal to donor countries for help, will demonstrate solidarity by responding promptly and generously to any request from Madagascar for assistance in its present plight.