Declaration by Christopher Patten on Flooding in Mozambique

Brussels, 1 March 2000 - The Commission is following with great concern the emergency situation in Mozambique. The continuing torrential rains throughout the southern Africa region, aggravated by the cyclone Eline, have led to displacement of large numbers of people and there has been considerable damage to housing and infrastructure. Several people have lost their lives and many have disappeared or been injured.

The government of Mozambique has appealed for humanitarian aid from third countries. The International Community (including USA, Switzerland, South Africa, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, and the Netherlands) has to date provided substantial assistance.

My colleague, Commissioner Nielson is currently in Mozambique together with the Portuguese Secretary of State to assess the situation. Mr. Nielson will be happy to report back to the Parliament on the findings of his mission.

ECHO last week decided to allocate one million EURO for flood relief, of which 600.000 EURO will be disbursed through the Spanish Red Cross - 150.000 through MSF Luxembourg both for operations in Mozambique, and 250.000 EURO to Botswana through the German Red Cross.

These NGOs will address the most urgent need which is to move people in danger to more secure areas, as well as providing health care, water and sanitation.

ECHO is currently preparing a second decision for a further 2 million EURO. A third decision will be considered in the light of the mission of Commissioner Nielson.

The Commission is also preparing a medium-term EC response combining NGO co-financing with European Development Fund operations to help Mozambique to respond to the crisis situation in re-establish the rapid pace of growth that Mozambique had worked so hard for. It is envisaged that this response would link the current phase of emergency through to re-construction within a 3 to 4 years horizon.