Concern increases Mozambique emergency allocation to £500,000 and says it will double number of staff in country

Concern, Ireland's largest relief and development agency, announced today, February 24, that it has increased to IR =A3500,000 the amount of money allocated to the emergency in Mozambique.
In response to the rapidly deteriorating situation, Concern's allocation of funds will rise from the IR=A3100,000 initially committed, to IR =A3500,000. This is to meet Concern's expanded emergency operations in Mozambique.

The relief and development agency has also announced the doubling of its staff in Mozambique, with a plan to immediately dispatch an extra five personnel to aid the expanded relief operation.

A multi-disciplinary team is currently being put together, and will include specialists in health, sanitation and logistics.

Concern has also appealed for public donations to offset the worst effects of the disaster.

In the immediate future Concern will concentrate on distribution of emergency aid &endash; including foodstuff, shelter items, blankets, jerrycans, soap and cooking utensils.

We also anticipate becoming involved in the provision of water, sanitation and basic health care, especially for the many thousands now assembled in temporary refugee centres.

Concern is currently distributing emergency food aid in the southern Mozambican province of Maputo, one of the areas worst affected by the flooding and Cyclone Eline. Concern is the only Irish NGO distributing emergency relief in the area.

Our operations are now being expanded to target other areas that have been seriously affected in recent days.

Included in the increased allocation of IR =A3500,000 is a grant of =A379,000 from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Concern team in Mozambique estimate that some 300,000 people have been seriously affected by the disaster. Many have lost everything as houses, roads and bridges were swept away by the worst flooding the country has seen in over 50 years. Thousands are reported to be homeless, many of them children.

Over 100,000 hectares of food crops have been flooded and in some areas 30 percent of the livestock have been killed.

The latest death toll stands at approximately 70, but is expected to rise as there are increasing reports of bodies seen floating in rivers . The main rivers in southern Mozambique - Incomati, Umbeluzi, Sabie, Limpopo and Save, as well as their tributaries - all burst their banks and flooded extensive areas of the surrounding land.

Heavy rains in neighbouring countries have resulted in dams being opened, with the result that the flood water level in Mozambique will rise even further.

There are fears that the health situation will deteriorate and reports of a cholera outbreak. Ministry of Health officials have warned of an increasing incidence of malaria, diarrhea, scabies and conjunctivitis. Normal drug stocks are being depleted and delivery of new stock has proven problematic in more isolated areas.

Concern's Country director Jo Thomas pointed out that, after years of conflict, Mozambique had made "great progress" in recent years: "The real tragedy here is that this will set the country back years. Internationally, Mozambique was held up as a model of development and progress. It had made great strides in recent years and, now, in a few short days all that good work has been completely undermined."

While the distribution of emergency aid remains a priority, Concern is also looking to the longer-term and examining how it can help with rebuilding and rehabilitation in the worst affected areas.

Concern has been in Mozambique for 13 years, maintaining a presence in the country through the worst years of the conflict. Current Concern programmes deal with Education, Agriculture and Community Development.