Mozambique: UN envoy praises humanitarian response

News and Press Release
Originally published
NAIROBI, 16 March (IRIN) - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's outgoing Special Humanitarian Envoy to Mozambique, Ross Mountain, on Thursday praised the rapid international response to the floods crisis. He also lauded the government's cooperation with the international humanitarian community.
On the next steps for the international response, Mountain said preparations were now underway for a transitional appeal, which would estimate the needs for the next six months, focussing on emergency reconstruction. It would be launched in the coming week.

In response to suggestions at a news conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, that the internatinal humanitarian response to Mozambique's crisis had been tardy, Mountain said: "I believe the international community has responded rapidly."

He said a UN team was immediately dispatched and international support was provided shortly after the first rains hit Mozambique in early February.

"If one understands the context in which the response occurred, I think the speed of the response was responsible for saving many, many lives," Mountain said. While he wished the response could have been even faster, there was a "minimum time needed for cranking up."

He also stressed the importance of the help provided to affected areas early on by the people of Mozambique itself, and neighbouring countries, including South Africa and Malawi, which provided the first relief helicopters.

"Instant cash enabled helicopters to get into the air and operate immediately." Other helicopters arrived within a week, mainly from European countries.

The UN country team was supplemented within days by some 90 additional international staff of WFP, UNICEF, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other agencies, he said.

Meanwhile, he said the Italian government was organising a donor rehabilitation conference for Mozambique, to be held in Rome on 27-28 April. The high-level conference would look at longer term reconstruction needs in Mozambique.


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