Relief Teams distribute supplies to flood victims

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (PANA) - The South African National Defence Force which has been carrying out relief operations in flood-stricken Mozambique for over two weeks now, on Tuesday shifted its focus from rescue missions to distributing supplies.
Backed by a large contingent of soldiers and humanitarian workers from around the world, the relief operations are now being focused in the region south of the Limpopo River valley.

Britain, Germany, France, Spain and the United States are among the countries which have provided personnel and aircraft for relief operations.

The multi-national force has been working in conjunction with the Mozambican disaster management team and the World Food Programme to distribute food, blankets and medicine to victims of the worst flooding in the region in more than 50 years.

Staff from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) have also joined the UN Disaster Assessment and Co-ordination (UNDAC) team working in the area.

The joint UNEP/Habitat fact-finding mission will provide input into the UNDAC report on the damage assessment and rehabilitation of the areas affected by the flooding in Mozambique, with a particular focus on the impact of the floods on the environment and human settlements.

It will also make recommendations on long-term mitigation and preparedness in the areas of the environment and human settlements.

Although the flood waters have begun receding in many parts of the country, the situation is still serious in and around Xai-Xai and Palmeira, north of Maputo, where more than 120,000 people are experiencing malnutrition and several diseases.

A total of about one million people have been left homeless by the floods and the death toll could run into the thousands.

Meanwhile, Graca Machel, the former first lady of Mozambique, has added her voice to concerns that the international community reacted too slowly in responding to the catastrophe.

"It seems the world has no conscience when it comes to human life," Machel was quoted as saying.

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