I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and destruction caused by Tropical Cyclone Kenneth which first hit the Union of Comoros two days ago before making landfall as a category 4 storm last night in the Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique on the border with Tanzania. With maximum sustained wind speed of 225 km/hour and gusts that reached 270km/hour, the storm ripped roofs off of homes and continues to generate heavy rainfall resulting in massive flooding as it moves across Mozambique.
The disaster comes only six weeks after Cyclone Idai devastated central Mozambique, killing more than 600 people, unleashing a cholera epidemic, wiping out crops in the country’s breadbasket, forcing a million people to rely on food assistance to survive, and causing massive destruction of homes, schools and infrastructure in one of the world’s poorest countries.
The UN and partners continue to support the Government-led humanitarian responses to Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Cyclone Kenneth marks the first time two cyclones have made landfall in Mozambique during the same season, further stressing the Government’s limited resources. Malawi and Zimbabwe are also expected to experience heavy rains and flooding caused by Cyclone Kenneth.
Prior to the storm making landfall in Mozambique, the Government and Red Cross volunteers alerted communities in areas at high risk of flooding, erosion and landslides, and relocated residents most at risk. The UN and its partners pre-positioned supplies and put teams on standby to deploy if required.
Today, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is redeploying its leadership and additional staff in Mozambique to Pemba to help coordinate the Government-led response and manage information. Shelter, clean water, sanitation and hygiene kits, food and non-food items, power generation and telecommunication equipment are urgently needed, while the areas impacted by the storm are difficult to access.
Cyclone Kenneth may require a major new humanitarian operation at the same time that the ongoing Cyclone Idai response targeting 3 million people in three countries remains critically underfunded. The families whose lives have been turned upside down by these climate-related disasters urgently need the generosity of the international community to survive over the coming months.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, 26 April 2019
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