Italian Co-operation office sets up task force in Maputo for aid to Mozambique

Rome, 6 March 2000 - Upon instruction of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lamberto Dini, the Italian Co-operation office set up a task force yesterday, 5 March, at the Italian embassy in Maputo. It will be responsible for co-ordinating initiatives to assist the victims of the recent devastating flooding in the country and will also be entrusted with the task of carrying out an on-the-field investigation to assess the most immediate further needs. This will provide the relief effort with an operational impetus, in view, inter alia, of the meeting of donor countries that Italy proposes to hold in Rome late March.

The task force, which is led by Deputy Director of Co-operation, Massimo Iannuci, and in which Italian Non-Governmental Organisation's operating in Mozambique are also participating, has already held its first meeting with the Italian ambassador, Stefano Rastrelli, and with the co-operation experts already present in Maputo. It is also scheduled to meet with the highest local authorities, in order to identify the sectors and modalities for its operations. In the meantime, a primary initiative to provide medical care, as requested by the Mayor of Maputo, will be provided to a large number of refugees camped out on the outskirts of the city.

On Tuesday March 7, the task force will transfer to Beira, located in the region most badly hit by the catastrophe, to carry out a similar operation to assist the local medical structures there, many of which are run by Italian missionaries.

With a budget of some two billion liras for immediate term operations, apart from providing medical assistance, the Italian Co-operation office is also taking action in the agricultural sector. The gravity of the situation in the countryside, where crops have been totally destroyed, has been made known to the task force. For this reason, seeds needed for the next harvest will be purchased and provided over the coming days. Lastly, the arrival of food aid, and in particular cereals, is imminent.

These operations are added to the aid amounting to ten billion liras that was allocated a few days ago by Minister Dini for assistance and reconstruction initiatives, to be carried out via the UNDP and Italian Non-Governmental Organisations. In the meantime, food and medical supplies for a value of around 900 million liras that were sent by the Italian Co-operation office as soon as the emergency broke out, have been successfully distributed.