Mozambique: Storm threatens fresh devastation

News and Press Release
Originally published
JOHANNESBURG, 21 February (IRIN) - Coastal areas in Mozambique braced themselves on Monday for the arrival of a tropical depression bringing more rains and strong winds across from the Mozambique Channel.
Meteorologists in Maputo said that the depression was likely to reach Mozambique sometime on Monday afternoon and could be accompanied by winds of up to 120 km an hour.

The depression, which had been downgraded from a cyclone, hit the island of Madagascar at the weekend where it claimed several lives and left thousands homeless.

The depression is likely to affect the coastal province of Inhambane, and the central Zambezia and Sofala Provinces. There are also fears that the southern Gaza Province, where up to 200,000 people have been left homeless, could be affected.

The provincial government in Inhambane has urged residents to remain indoors with their windows shut while those in poorly-built homes along the coast were advised to move to higher ground.

The Mozambican government estimates that up to 800,000 people have been affected by the floods. About 300,000 of them are now in urgent need of food aid and assistance.

In their latest update on the situation the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that Limpopo Valley in Gaza Province was currently the focus of relief efforts. OCHA said that local authorities in Gaza Province were in urgent need of support to assist displaced families and that "the sanitation situation in particular requires substantial attention in view of the much-feared cholera and malaria outbreaks."

The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) in Maputo announced on Monday that as of last Thursday half of the 1,000 mt of food aid that had been planned had already been delivered. WFP said that it had stockpiled food, medicine and tents at Palmeira, about 90 km north of Maputo, in anticipation of more rain.

Mozambican officials said at the weekend that up to 70,000 hectares of crops have been lost because of the floods.

International response

Meanwhile, South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said at the weekend that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was in the process of mobilising resources to aid Mozambique.

Speaking to journalists at Waterkloof Airbase in Pretoria, Zuma said that the South African Air force would extend its rescue and relief efforts in Mozambique by at least another week.

In their update, OCHA said that South Africa's air fleet had been supporting the bulk of national and international relief efforts.

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) has appealed to its member states and the international community for urgent aid for flood victims. The OAU has already given US $20,000 to aid flood relief efforts. A coordinated inter-agency-government appeal is expected to be launched in Maputo later this week, OCHA added.


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