PICS and VIDEO: UN chief makes climate change plea in cyclone-hit Mozambique

PICS and VIDEO: UN chief makes climate change plea in cyclone-hit Mozambique

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General, speaks to children in a classroom Escola 25 de Juhno in Munhava that was damaged during Cyclone Idai, on June 12, 2019 in Beira, as part of Guterres' visit to assess recovery efforts from two cyclones earlier this year in Mozambique. (Photo by WIKUS DE WET / AFP)

‘Mozambique’s case must be a clear example to the world,’ he told reporters. ‘The larger nations must assume strong positions against global warming. It’s urgent to stop funding fossil fuels.’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday issued a strong plea for action on climate change as he visited Beira in central Mozambique, which was devastated by a cyclone in March.

“Mozambique’s case must be a clear example to the world,” he told reporters. “The larger nations must assume strong positions against global warming.

“It’s urgent to stop funding fossil fuels.”

Cyclone Idia, followed by Cyclone Kenneth, smashed into Mozambique in March and April 2019, hitting the centre and north of the country just six weeks apart in an unprecedented weather pattern.

A photo shows a general view of Beira on July 12, 2019 in Beira, an area which was affected by Cyclone Idai. Picture: WIKUS DE WET / AFP

More than two million people were affected and about 650 died.

The UN has said Mozambique is highly vulnerable to extreme weather and rising sea-levels caused by climate change.

Rising sea levels increase the strength of storm surges and drive more powerful waves towards the shore.

Four months after Cyclone Idai, Guterres visited a camp where 480 families have sheltered in tents since the storm.

Children sit in a classroom at the Escola 25 de Juhno in Munhava district that was damaged during Cyclone Idai, on July 12, 2019 in Beira, Mozambique. Picture: WIKUS DE WET / AFP

“My husband has disappeared since the night of the cyclone,” Marta Muchanga, the mother of two children, said, adding that her house and all her belongings had been swept away.

“We do not know if he died because his body was never found. I live here with my two children and I have no job. I braid hair to survive and feed my children.”

Jonas Chicote, a local leader in the Mandruzi resettlement camp, said that many families had been split up.

“The rescue process prioritised the rescue of children in the first place and many parents lost their children. Over the course of time, some have been re-united,” he said.

A photo shows a vegetable garden at the Mandruzi Resettlement area on July 12, 2019 in Dondo District, Beira, Mozambique. Picture: WIKUS DE WET / AFP

One survivor said the displaced families in the camp were short of food.

Aid agencies Save the Children, CARE and Oxfam on Friday issued a joint statement calling for further emergency food assistance as 433,000 families had had their farming land destroyed.

“The cyclones and flooding are proof that climate change hurts the poorest, the most,” the statement added.

The UN said that humanitarian relief operations had reached 1.8 million people since Cyclone Idai stuck, with 1,000 aid workers deployed across the impact zone.

But it added that less than half of the $282 million required to complete the recovery work had been raised.

United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, right, and Mayor of Beira, Davis Simango, stand on the rooftop of the city hall on July 12, 2019 in Beira, as part of Guterres’ visit to assess recovery efforts from two cyclones earlier this year in Mozambique. Picture: WIKUS DE WET / AFP

“I was impressed with the capacity of Mozambicans to recover from disasters,” Guterres said.

“Everywhere I saw people busy rebuilding their lives. I’ve launched major appeals to the world to mobilise aid to Mozambique but we still need more.

“There’s recent research indicating that Mozambique is the second country worldwide most vulnerable to climate change effects.

“Mozambique’s contribution to global warm is zero, so the bigger nations that most contribute to global warming must assist it.

“I don’t want to see our money financing destruction like what happened in Mozambique.”

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.




today in print