More help needed for Mozambique as situation becomes desperate

Geneva, February 28, 2000 - Inadequate air transport facilities could lead to the loss of great numbers of lives in Mozambique, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned on Monday.
With only five South African army helicopters involved in rescue efforts, hundreds of thousands of people continue to be stranded across southern Mozambique. The funds to keep the helicopters operating have now run out.

The situation is deteriorating rapidly as flood levels continue to rise. In response, the International Federation has revised its appeal launched on 11 February to 4,667,312 Swiss francs to take into account the need for more air transport. The revised Federation appeal will include aid for Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland, also badly affected by floods.

With logistics and difficult working conditions severely hampering Red Cross efforts to rescue people and transport relief to where it's needed the most in Mozambique, there is an urgent need for more money to pay for air transport.

The Red Cross, meanwhile, is continuing to provide food, shelter and clean water in accessible areas, particularly in Maputo province.

The situation in the Limpopo valley is particularly bad. The entire province of Gaza is now flooded. The town of Chokwe, inundated by one metre of water on Sunday morning, is likely to be hit by another large tidal surge. The town is already cut off from the south. The provincial capital Xia Xia, is also expected to be hit by a one metre crest in the next few days. The situation in the provinces of Inhambane and Sofala is also becoming serious as the levels of the Save river rise.

With heavy rains also falling in Zimbabwe and Zambia, rising levels in rivers and lakes means it's only a question of time before northern Sofala and southern parts of the province of Zambezia are flooded.

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact:

Jemini Pandya, Information Officer Tel: (41 22) 730 4214
Mobile : (41 79) 416 3881

The International Federation, the ICRC and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

=A9 1999 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies