Premium Journalist
2 minute read
20 Mar 2019
9:34 am

Humanitarian emergency in wake of cyclone Idai getting bigger by the hour, says UN


In addition to the death toll, tens of thousands of people have lost their homes while roads, bridges, and crops have been washed away.

A picture shows plants utility poles and electrical pylons in the flooded area outside the coastal city of Beira in central Mozambique on March 19, 2019, after the area was hit by the Cyclone Idai. - Rescue workers in Mozambique were racing against time to pluck people off trees and rooftops on March 19, after a monster storm reaped a feared harvest of more than 1,000 lives before smashing into Zimbabwe. Four days after Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall, torrential rains and powerful winds, combined with flash floods that have swept away roads and bridges, inflicted further pain on the two impoverished countries. (Photo by ADRIEN BARBIER / AFP)

The full devastation caused by tropical cyclone Idai is becoming clearer and the emergency is getting bigger by the hour, with millions affected by the disaster according to the United Nations.

Jens Laerke from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said: “We are talking about a massive disaster right now where hundreds of thousands – in the millions of people are potentially affected. We need all the logistical support that we can possibly get.”

Five days after the storm hit Mozambique, at least 1,000 people are dead there alone. An estimated 1.7 million people were in the path of the cyclone in Mozambique in addition to the 920,000 people affected in Malawi and “thousands more” impacted in Zimbabwe.

The number of dead is expected to rise despite the floodwaters receding in Zimbabwe and Malawi as more victims wait for help trapped on roofs and clinging to trees.

Matthew Cochrane, a spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, underlined the perilous situation, noting that colleagues “talked of flooding perhaps in parts as deep as six metres, covering roofs, covering palm trees, covering telephone poles”.

The UN Children’s Fund Unicef confirmed the scale of the emergency, noting that 260,000 children have been affected in Mozambique, which bore the brunt of Idai.

In addition to the death toll, tens of thousands of people across Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe have lost their homes while roads, bridges, and crops have been washed away.

One of the biggest challenges facing the World Food Programme, which is delivering food aid, is gaining access to those affected following two swollen rivers bursting their banks and inland oceans extending for miles and miles in the affected areas.

Furthermore, heavy rain is continuing and more is forecast, according to Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organisation.

– African News Agency

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