Mozambique: Ross Mountain praised media's role and international solidarity

Geneva 17 March - After two weeks in Mozambique co-ordinating the relief efforts, Ross Mountain, Special Humanitarian Envoy of the Secretary-General, returned to Geneva this morning where he briefed representatives of the donor community. He commended the unprecedented response shown by Western countries and by those in the South African Region (South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe Swaziland). "It was an extraordinary range of support " Mountain said at a press conference held following the donors meeting, emphasizing the role played by the Government of Mozambique, which "was the first to respond to the disaster", as well as that of the international community. Contributions pledged and reported to OCHA are now just short of 119 million US dollars. The media was an essential partner of the relief workers, broadcasting the images which ultimately influenced world public opinion. The general public in all countries has shown its solidarity with the people of Mozambique.
Mountain announced that next week a new transitional appeal will be launched. This international appeal will concentrate on the emergency assistance needs for a six month period and will link up with the reconstruction phase which will follow, covering the gaps between the emergency and the reconstruction and re-development phase. A donors conference on the reconstruction of Mozambique will take place in Rome at the end of April.

The latest figures released by OCHA indicate that 463,000 people are being assisted during the present relief phase. They are located in 121 centres where they are provided with food, health services, clean water and shelter. "The spectacular phase is over" Mountain said referring to the rescue of stranded and isolated people in the country. The search however is not yet concluded; military and civilian assets are being used to conduct reconnaissance missions. At present, 53 aircraft are employed, including 37 helicopters. Mountain expressed the hope that the waters of the main rivers will rapidly recede leaving the UN with the new task of assisting people to return to normal life.

Mountain expressed concern over the health situation saying that malaria and cholera are major threats and referred to the grave danger posed by the displaced mines which have been washed away. The mine clearing programme, which prior to the floods already involved 500 people, will need to be resumed. Clearing agricultural land of mines will be even more dangerous and painstaking work (DKP).


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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