Flood victims in danger unless aid reaches Madagascar

Geneva. 17 March 2000
The plight of nearly 100,000 flood victims in Madagascar is critical and will deteriorate further unless more aid reaches them soon, warns the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

In response, the International Red Cross has today (March 17) launched an appeal for 4.3 million Swiss francs to help the homeless. The appeal comes as many villages inland still remain totally cut off. Several towns, especially along the east coast, have been particularly hard hit. Nearly 500,000 people have been affected by the floods which followed in the wake of two tropical cyclones, Eline and Gloria. "We really need to get help to those who are homeless and have lost all their belongings in the floods," says Pierre Lenoble of the Malagasy Red Cross. Money from the appeal will be targeted at helping 100,000 of the most vulnerable people.

The Red Cross has already started sending aid. The Dutch Red Cross sent 40 tons of non-food aid including emergency medical units, blankets, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets and water purification tablets. The medical units will provide care and medication for 30,000 people for three months while the other items will help 50,000 people over the next few weeks.
The Malagasy Red Cross, with support from the International Federation, has been working with Madagascar's National Relief Council to assess the full extent of the damage and needs. It has also been helping in the distribution of food and other relief items. Without further aid, large numbers of lives are at risk in a country where waterborne diseases such as cholera have reached alarming proportions.

As in Mozambique, the emergency phase of the relief operation will have to be followed by long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation. "Besides priority assistance, such as shelter and medicines, there is a need for reconstruction both of homes and agriculture," says Georg Nothelle, delegation leader in Madagascar. The island nation has lost up to 70% of its crops and large numbers of livestock and it will take a long time before the country recovers from the disaster.

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact:

Caroline Hurford, Information Delegate, Madagascar phone (261 20) 22 629 29 (871/3) 761 242 220
Media Service, Geneva Mobile : (41 79) 416 3881

The International Federation, the ICRC and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.