UN reports "steady progress" in assistance to flood-ravaged Mozambique

The United Nations today reported "steady progress" in the efforts by the international community to provide emergency assistance to flood-ravaged Mozambique.
A spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a press briefing in New York that so far more than 10,000 people have been rescued by air, and such operations were in the process of being completed.

Spokesman Fred Eckhard said that the aid operation, which includes forty-three helicopters and 120 inflatable boats, is being overseen by two coordination centers, one in Maputo and the other in Beira in central Mozambique. He said that UN officials reported excellent cooperation with the military in place from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Malawi and South Africa, which played a critical role in the early phase of the emergency.

"The major thrust now is the supply by air and water of food and equipment for ensuring clean drinking water as well as the movement of personnel and supplies to address health needs," Mr. Eckhard said. "One hundred tons of aid is being distributed daily. Shelter is also a priority."

Mr. Eckhard said that these needs were among the priorities outlined by the ministers from Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa held last Friday in Pretoria, South Africa. International contributions, or at least pledges, to the emergency effort now stand at $78 million.

An estimated 950,000 people have been affected by the flooding, including 250,000 people who were displaced from their homes and are currently being sheltered in 64 care centers or camps in the Limpopo and Save river basin areas, according to the spokesman.

Meanwhile, with the level of all rivers continuing to fall and Cylone Gloria dropping in intensity, plans were under way to re-open the road from the capital Maputo to the coastal city of Macia, some 150 kilometers to the northeast, in order to facilitate the delivery of food and other emergency items.