The ten member team plus two members of
the Bude lifeboat have been operating near the town of Chibuto on the Limpopo
River which has suffered seriously from the recent floods. The team deployed
for Mozambique on 2nd March and was the first British organisations deployed
operationally in the region.
Following the team's arrival four members were dispatched to an area 3km from Chibuto to establish a refugee camp and provide communications and any medical assistance required, with the remainder of the team following to establishing a boat station 20km upstream.
During the period Saturday March 4th to Wednesday March 8th the refugee camp had grown to 600 in strength with many people being treated by the team medics for various injuries and illnesses. A helicopter was called for early Sunday morning to evacuate a young child whose condition had deteriorated to a life threatening situation. Up until Tuesday people where still being rescued and brought into the camp, one lady was rescued and brought into the camp from the mud after being trapped for more than seven days, having lost part of her foot and being very frail she was given medical attention.
During one rescue operation a baby was separated from its mother and was brought into the RAPID-UK camp. The team medic struggled to keep the baby alive by using a syringe to feed the baby whilst a frantic search of other refugee camps by helicopter took place searching for the mother. The mother was located and re-united with her baby.
The refugee camp being run by RAPID-UK was considered stable on March 8th with re-supply taking place by RAF Puma helicopters and a South African rescue helicopters.
Boat teams operating along the Limpopo River have been busy locating people still stranded and moving them to a place of safety. The boats have also been busy moving food and clean water to clusters of people in villages cut off from the main towns. These activities continued from first to last light every day.
No operations take place at night due to helicopters not operating and a heightened threat from snakes and other dangerous animals.
During Tuesday night 7th and Wednesday 8th heavy rains and winds caused further problems forcing the team to move the medical centre that had been set up. The base camp was flooded and caused a very uncomfortable night by all.
One RAPID-UK member operating with the South African rescue helicopters was involved in continuous searches of the flooded areas for people still in difficulties, this rescue helicopter was involved in the rescue of children who had been thrown into the swollen river after a boat they were travelling in capsized. Information gathered by the helicopter team was taken back to Maputo each night for dissemination amongst other aid agencies.
Late on Wednesday 9th March the boat section of RAPID-UK was moved by helicopter to the refugee camp to form one team again. It was agreed that a South African group would now take over the running of the camp.
All RAPID members withdrew back to Maputo late on Thursday by helicopter. Late Thursday evening it was decided that the boat section would return to UK leaving medical and communications personnel behind to help with the continued medical and relief effort.
Once the team arrived back in Maputo the Mozambique authorities requested a small team to stay and help establish another refugee camp further up the Limpopo River, this request resulted from an excellent job that had been carried out with the previous camp and distribution of aid. Therefore a small team stayed to fulfill this request.
On Friday 10th March the remaining members deployed back to the Limpopo River region to help establish a second camp.
On Sunday 12th March Mozambique's first lady and the British High Commissioner visited the RAPID-UK medics. It was stated that the first refugee camp set up by RAPID-UK was to serve as an example to others of how a camp should be set up and run. The team was thanked for its efforts in helping the people of Mozambique.
All RAPID-UK members were back in UK by Thursday 16th March some two weeks after their initial deployment. The team had worked tirelessly during this period, moving stranded personnel to a place of safety by boat and helicopter, delivering food and water to refugees by boat and establishing refugee camps, thus providing shelter, medical needs and communications.
Once again British Airways provided transportation, however the entire operation cost RAPID-UK in excess of £14,000 for the purchase of rescue boats and engines to meet the need.
This is a brief only of activities carried out by RAPID-UK a full mission report and photos will follow.