100 000 still trapped by waters and one million homeless

Report
from Mail and Guardian
Published on 02 Mar 2000
Johannesburg, South Africa. March 2 2000

FLOODS IN MOZAMBIQUE

* 1m of Mozambique's 19m population are displaced by floods.

* 100 000 are trapped by rising waters on rooftops, on shrinking islands, or in trees .

* At least 200 people have perished, but the final toll is expected to be thousands.

* Six South African helicopters have saved 8 000 people.

* Aid workers say malaria is running at four times the normal rate.

* The United Nations has appealed for R85m in emergency aid; Mozambique has asked for R410m.

* R147m has already been pledged, according to the UN.

* Britain's international development department has donated R58m and cancelled Mozambique's debts.

* British aid includes cash for nine chartered helicopters, an airlift of 100 inflatable dinghies and life rafts, with 30 emergency service personnel, and a military reconaissance team. Four RAF Puma helicopters are being flown out to Mozambique today.

* The international development department sent out two aid specialists to assess the disaster as long ago as February 11.

* Aid agencies admit that they underestimated the volume of water which inundated the Limpopo and Save river valleys of Mozambique after neighbouring Zimbabwe opened its overwhelmed dams. Cyclone Eline added to the chaos.

* Transporting large helicopters by air from Europe to Mozambique is problematic. RAF Hercules transporters are not large enough. Chartered Antonov-124s are required, but can only carry four Puma helicopters at a time, at a cost of R2m a flight.

* Mozambique's armed forces currently have only one functioning helicopter, which is used by the presidency.

* Neighbouring Zimbabwe, embroiled in a war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and facing its own floods, has sent no helicopters.

* The Disasters Emergency Committee will launch its main appeal for Mozambique today, bringing together the charities Action Aid, Save the Children, Oxfam, Cafod, Christian Aid, Red Cross, Concern, Help the Aged, Merlin, Tear Fund and World Vision.

* Italy has pledged R33m of aid. Japan has pledged R6,25m in tents and equipment.

* The French relief agency Médecins du Monde has sent a five-person team and 10 tons of medical and sanitary equipment.

* A United States C-17 transport aircraft arrived in Maputo yesterday as the US approved an additional R6,3m in aid.

* The World Health Organisation has appealed for baby delivery kits for the estimated 3 400 Mozambican women who will give birth in the next three months.

* At least 350 people have died across southern Africa in the worst floods in half a century. Mozambique's warns that fresh flooding will hit the centre and south of the country in a few days.

-- The Guardian, March 2 2000.