Mozambique

Slowly receding floodwaters continue to hamper Mozambique Relief Efforts

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Originally published
Cynthia Long, Managing Editor, DisasterRelief.org
Eusebio Xavier, 27, came to a flood refugee camp in Chaqualane with his wife and two children after being stranded for five days on a roof. His mud house and all of his belongings were washed away and his small shop destroyed. Now he plans to cultivate a tiny piece of land near the camp to survive. He doesn't want to go back home, "the smell is awful because of dead bodies," he says.

After a month of massive flooding triggered by heavy rains and two cyclones, water-covered Mozambique is slowly beginning to dry out. An estimated one million people are now homeless, most of them from the worst hit areas in the provinces of Gaza, Maputo, and Inhambane.

The rainy season is not over, but the floodwaters are receding under the watchful eyes of relief workers hoping to gain easier access to thousands of stranded people in need of food and clean water. The logistics of delivering food and other aid to the refugees has become a critical issue, according to the Red Cross. With roads impassable because of flooding, most efforts will continue to be carried out by air.

North of the town of Chokwe, the countryside still remains under water and access is extremely difficult. The death toll is expected to increase dramatically in the next few days. "Probably a lot more than the official [number] have died in the floods" said Roberto Maecacua, the president of the Chokwe Red Cross branch. There is concern that more could succumb to dehydration or disease.

In the town of Chokwe itself, the floodwaters have begun to recede, revealing enormous devastation. Trees and electric poles lie scattered on the ground along with carcasses of farm animals. Cars and trucks are overturned and some water-logged properties have been looted of anything salvagable. Latrines and sewers have spilled out into the streets, contaminating the muddy waters that desperately thirsty people drink.

There is a strong fear of a cholera outbreak and the Red Cross is setting up water and sanitation programs in Chokwe and other flooded communities. The Mozambique Ministry of Health also has started cholera prevention campaigns in the camps. But it is malaria that now plagues flood refugees. Thousands have contracted the disease from swarms of mosquitos breeding in murky floodwaters.

A main objective of the Red Cross relief effort has been to prevent an outbreak of waterborne diseases. Latrines are being built and existing wells chlorinated while Red Cross volunteers give basic health information and explain the dangers of epidemics.

Red Cross, United States Assess At-Risk Areas

There are still many severely affected regions that have yet to be assessed for relief needs. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has asked the American Red Cross to take the lead in the assessment of two areas in the Gaza province. Chibuto and Xai-Xai, the capital of Gaza, are among the worst affected areas and the American Red Cross is teaming up with the German Red Cross (GRC) to determine the most efficient distribution systems for relief items.

After a distribution system is created, the American Red Cross also helps with the delivery of supplies. The American Red Cross delegate Don Mosgrove led a distribution of 100 family tents, 100 tarpaulins, and 400 kitchen sets to a large refugee camp in the town of Chaqualane. The camp, sheltering approximately 46,000 people, is divided into eight main village groups representing the villages of the displaced.

Once they arrive at the camp, goods are handed out by leaders from each of the villages, with pregnant women and families with sick children given first priority. Each village will receive approximately 10 family tents, 10 tarpaulins, and 40 kitchen sets.

The American Red Cross and other relief agencies hope the arrival of heavy lift helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft from the United States will help bring more supplies to the flood victims.

The United States is helping relief agencies assess "hot spots," regions in need of immediate aid, as part of "Operation Atlas Response," a mission to deliver aid to the flood-stricken country.

A specially equipped Hercules C-130 plane flew over the flood-stricken areas Tuesday, beaming back live images of marooned people and demolished terrain. This information will be passed on to aid agencies to help them plan relief efforts, Air Force Col. Gary Sadler told CNN.

The commander of the U.S. mission in Mozambique, Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph Werhle, told reporters that mapping "hot spots" where people are at risk was a first priority. U.S. forces also will identify road and rail breaks that could be repaired quickly so aid could be speeded up, he said.

A host of international relief organizations and at least 16 African and Western governments have provided an estimated $103 million to Mozambique, but at least $250 million will be needed over the next year to rebuild the country, said Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano.

DisasterRelief.org is a unique partnership between the American Red Cross, IBM and CNN dedicated to providing information about disasters and their relief operations worldwide. The three-year-old website is a leading disaster news source and also serves as a conduit for those wishing to donate to disaster relief operations around the globe through the international Red Cross movement.

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How You Can Help

To help the victims of international disasters, you may make a secure online credit card donation with the American Red Cross International Response Fund. Money from the International Response Fund is given to countries most in need of assistance. You can also contribute directly to the Mozambique relief effort by calling 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To earmark your check for this disaster, write Mozambique in the memo section.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. To help the victims of Mozambique, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.

The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. The Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organization that annually provides almost half the nation's blood supply, trains nearly 12 million people in vital life-saving skills, mobilizes relief to victims in more than 60,000 disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to 2.5 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in more than 20 countries, and transmits more than 1.4 million emergency messages to members of the Armed Forces and their families. If you would like information on Red Cross services and programs please contact your local Red Cross.

=A9 Copyright 2000, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.

DisasterRelief
DisasterRelief.org is a unique partnership between the American Red Cross, IBM and CNN dedicated to providing information about disasters and their relief operations worldwide. The three-year-old website is a leading disaster news source and also serves as a conduit for those wishing to donate to disaster relief operations around the globe through the international Red Cross movement. American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. The Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organization that annually provides almost half the nation's blood supply, trains nearly 12 million people in vital life-saving skills, mobilizes relief to victims in more than 60,000 disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to 2.5 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in more than 20 countries, and transmits more than 1.4 million emergency messages to members of the Armed Forces and their families. If you would like information on Red Cross services and programs please contact your local Red Cross. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.