Farnesina underlines high level of relief operations and resources mobilised following flooding in Mozambique

Courtesy translation

Rome, 10 March 2000

The Farnesina underlines that in the wake of the tragic situation arising from flooding in Mozambique, a major humanitarian relief effort and resources have been mobilised by both the Italian Co-operation office as well as by Italy's voluntary services. In addition to the 12 billion liras already allocated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lamberto Dini, the Farnesina is continuing to send emergency supplies to Maputo and Beira. Early this afternoon, two planes, hired from the World Food Programme, landed in the Mozambican capital, carrying a cargo of high protein food purchased by the Italian Co-operation office and destined, above all, for the most under-nourished children in Mozambique. A few days ago, another two planes transported motor dinghies, electricity generators, medicines, water purification systems, tents and food supplies to the Mozambican authorities in Maputo and Beira.

The Italian Co-operation office has hired two local civilian helicopters to transport relief supplies to the religious missions in the area of Sofala where thousands of displaced persons are taking refuge.

The Task Force set up in Maputo upon instruction of Foreign Minister Dini is conducting an emergency aid programme to follow up this primary assistance. The action taken so far by the task force includes the decision to bear the entire cost (2 billion liras) of the seeds needed to sow the land as soon as the floodwaters have receded.

As far as medical assistance is concerned, three doctors have been sent out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They are currently drawing up a programme to be funded by Italy under which epidemiological checks will be carried out to avert outbreaks of cholera, above all, malaria and acute gastro-enteritis. The medicines needed for this programme are already on stand-by at the military airport in Pisa where the Italian Co-operation office runs an emergency aid storehouse with the United Nations. From that storehouse in Pisa, airlifts are being organised by Italy with the American and Norwegian governments to transport relief supplies provided by the three countries.

The strategy of the Italian plan is centred on enabling refugees in rural areas to return to their homes as rapidly as possible, providing them with the seeds, agricultural equipment and other supplies they need to recuperate their land.

Relief action has also been launched in the form of tents, medicines, food stuffs and indispensable supplies to assist the refugee camp in Maguanine, just outside the capital, where some three thousand refugees are sheltering.

What is more, the development programme that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had already launched for Mozambique before the flooding, amounting to a value of 150 billion liras over 3 years, will be radically revised so as to adapt operations to the new circumstances in the country.

In the framework of the programme, the Co-operation office has ensured the involvement of the Italian volunteer services (NGO's, Catholic Missions and associations) in the distribution of aid, in carrying out the programmes and, where possible, also in the co-funding of joint initiatives. A first meeting to this effect was held, upon instruction of Foreign Minister Dini, on Monday March 6. The meeting was chaired by Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Rino Serri.

Also underway is an Italian diplomatic initiative in New York, Geneva and Brussels to hold a meeting around late March or early April of the main donor countries under the presidency of the United Nations Development Programme. Italy has proposed to host that meeting in Rome. The purpose of the meeting is to agree on a division of tasks between the main Western partners and in which sectors to intervene, so as to avoid any overlapping.

Lastly, the Farnesina points out that Italy has decided to cancel all of Mozambique's debt to our country.