19 March 2019, The Tablet

Church agencies help southern Africa cyclone victims

The final death toll in Mozambique could be as high as 1,000, President Filipe Nyusi has said

Church agencies help southern Africa cyclone victims

Farmers check their crop after the area was hit by cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, March 17, 2019
unreguser/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Church agencies have been responding to the needs of more than a million and a half people after Cyclone Idai hit Southern Africa last week.

At least 215 people died and hundreds of thousands more were made homeless across Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. CAFOD immediately pledged £30,000 towards relief in Mozambique, with priority given to reaching 1,400 vulnerable people, with food – rice, beans, sugar and cooking oil - as well as hygiene kits. US-based Catholic Relief Services reports providing food, water and shelter across the affected region. The Catholic Church in Mozambique has expressed deep sorrow and solidarity with families who have lost loved ones and with thousands of families severely affected.

The strongest cyclone to hit Mozambique in two decades made landfall along the central coast on 14 March before hitting Zimbabwe last weekend. Mozambique's environment minister said the disaster could be the nation's worst, with infrastructure badly disrupted. The final death toll in Mozambique could be as high as 1,000, President Filipe Nyusi has said. Mr Nyusi flew over some of the worst-hit areas on Monday. He described seeing bodies floating in the rivers. Officials say 90 per cent of the port city of Beira has been destroyed. Antonio Anosso, humanitarian officer for Caritas Mozambique said, “we are facing some challenges in getting information from Beira because there is no communication, but we know there is a lack of food, water and shelter”. More than 400,000 acres of farm land has been flooded, affecting more than 100,000 farmers that depend on their land as their main source of income and food.

Zimbabwe declared a state of emergency in the affected areas. At least 31 people are thought to have been killed. Among the casualties there were at least two boarding school pupils and a security officer from St Charles Lwanga High School in Zimbabwe’s mountainous district of Chimanimani, after rocks and water swept down a mountain after torrential rain. Nearly 200 other pupils had to be rescued by the army.

Zimbabwe Red Cross Operations Director Karikoga Kutadzaushe told local media that the situation is "quite dire," adding that people displaced by the devastation are in immediate need of shelter.





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