UMCOR provides aid to Mozambique following cyclone

Cyclone Eline ravaged Mozambique with gale-force winds and torrential rains Feb. 22, just when relief organizations were scrambling to meet already daunting needs in the wake of the country's worst flooding in half a century.
The already-high Limpopo River, on the border between neighboring Zimbabwe and South Africa, was flooding vast areas. The flooding may have affected some 800,000 people, and 67 deaths have been reported. Officials fear the death toll and devastation could rise. The new flooding was frustrating efforts to distribute food and water, and thousands are now at risk from water-borne disease, malaria and hunger.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) airlifted 750 new blankets, 10,000 doses of oral re-hydration salts, 800 packs of mosquito netting, 1,060 bars of emergency survival rations, 65,100 servings of dehydrated diced potatoes and two water-purification units to Mozambique. Each water-purification unit can produce potable water from any contaminated fresh water at a rate of 10 gallons per minute, or 10,000 gallons of safe drinking water per day.

UMCOR also will forward $80,000 to Mozambique to purchase needed medicines and other items, and the agency is planning another shipment of relief goods as well. "We pray that our aid shipment will not be hampered by the effects of this cyclone, but we are bracing for additional devastation and efforts," said June H. Kim, an UMCOR executive.

Baptist World Aid made an initial grant of $5,000 available to assist relief efforts in Mozambique. The Mozambique Christian Council of Churches requested that the Emergency Response Program of Church World Service (CWS) provide $86,000 for initial relief. According to Rick Augsburger, director of the Emergency Response Program, CWS expects a cooperative appeal with Action by Churches Together, a coalition of Protestant and Orthodox relief organizations.

The United Nations also plans to launch an interagency appeal, according to Katrina Toll Velasquez, who heads the U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination team. "There is intense contingency planning under way now," she said.

Mozambique's government has appealed for $2.7 million in immediate international aid. The United States and European countries already have promised more than $2 million. South Africa has provided military helicopters to carry food and medical supplies into stranded communities.

You can support UMCOR's response to Mozambique through donations to UMCOR Advance #156500-0, designated either "Mozambique" or "South Africa." Checks may be dropped in church collection plates or mailed directly to UMCOR at 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Credit-card donations can be made by calling (800) 554-8583.