Spokesman Fred Eckhard said that in response UN agencies on the ground were undertaking assessments, pre-positioning food and non-food items and helping to coordinate the relief effort. He noted that the cyclone occurred at a time when a cholera epidemic had taken the lives of over 1,000 people, has caused heavy damage to houses and vital road links.
The UN World Food Programme will begin an airlift operation Friday and an official appeal for international assistance will be launched shortly, the spokesman said, adding that the Secretary-General was hoping that donors would contribute generously in response to the disaster.
Meanwhile in the flood-stricken Mozambique, the Secretary-General's Special Humanitarian Envoy, Ross Mountain, said Thursday that heavy rains had hampered aid efforts throughout the day and that helicopters and planes were waiting for the rains to cease so they could resume operations.
Mr. Mountain said a plane would be leaving Friday to investigate unconfirmed reports that thousands may be stranded along the Limpopo River in southern Mozambique. He added that there was particular concern about the lack of shelter materials in the camps, where an estimated 250,000 people have sought refuge in 74 camps