Mozambique: Children hard hit by floods

JOHANNESBURG, 1 March (IRIN) - Children have borne the brunt of the trauma of the flood disaster that has devastated Mozambique. The lucky ones have been rescued after being forced to abandon their homes. But many others have been separated from their parents, and an unknown number remain stranded and face the threat of malnutrition, UNICEF told IRIN on Wednesday.
According to UNICEF's Ian Mcleod in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, of the estimated 900,000 people affected by the floods, 180,000 of these are children under five. Out of the 230,000 displaced people who have lost their homes, children account for 46,000 of these.

Most of the areas affected by the floods were in between harvests. Before the floods started, the food security situation in the affected areas, especially the Gaza and Inhambane provinces, was already precarious.

"The floods have worsened the food security situation of these populations. It takes a relatively short period of time for children under five years of age to move from malnourished status to severe malnutrition," Mcleod said.

Children, particularly those already malnourished, are more susceptible to disease. Mcleod said that at a camp accommodating 20,000 people just outside Maputo, there has already been an oubreak of malaria and 783 children have been affected.

Meanwhile, media reports said there is a growing number of children who have been separated from their parents during the rescue mission. Because of the desperate situation of people trapped on roof tops, and tree branches, helicopter rescuers apparently prioritised airlifting the children to higher ground, and came back for adults later.


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