Cyclone Idai leaves over 1.5 million people in urgent need of humanitarian relief

Cyclone Idai leaves over 1.5 million people in urgent need of humanitarian relief

Over the weekend, Cyclone Idai tore a path of destruction through Mozambique and Zimbabwe, with flooding affecting up to 1.5 million people in both countries as well as Malawi.

First reports from Mozambique’s fourth largest city, Beira, suggest that the storm has left thousands without homes, electricity and any means of digital communication.

With Beira Airport closed, aid workers trying to access the area are being forced to travel from the capital city, Maputo, by various modes of transport.

Jamie LeSueur, who is leading the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) assessment team into Beira, said the following after taking part in a Red Cross aerial assessment:

“The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90 per cent of the area is completely destroyed.”

While the physical damage of Cyclone Idai is clear from above, there is uncertainty surrounding the human impact.

Original estimates by the UN suggest that the storm had put 600,000 people in Beira and the surrounding area at risk. In a statement on the 18th, the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, said he believed the death toll may exceed 1,000.

Cyclone Idai continued west, tearing through several districts in Zimbabwe, with Chimanimani and Chipinge districts in Manicaland Province being the hardest-hit. According to the IFRC, 31 deaths were reported, with over 100 people missing.

Cyclone Idai follows weeks of severe flooding in both Mozambique and Malawi. Prior to the storm, it is estimated that 17,000 people had already been displaced in Mozambique.

Malawi are facing wide spread damage across fourteen districts. It is believed that nearly one million have been affected by the flooding, leaving 80,000 without shelter. According to government figures, 56 deaths and 577 injuries have been reported.

The rapid-fire of both disasters has led to concerns around the humanitarian response. Heavy rains caused by Cyclone Idai could potentially further limit the access to vulnerable communities affected by flooding.

Currently, the combined death toll for Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe stands around 150, though this is expected to rise as time goes on. The IRFC team in Beira have identified shelter, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene as priorities.

In response to the disaster, the International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, announced that the UK would provide up to £6 million in aid to support victims in the area.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

“We have deployed a UK team of DFID experts who are now on the ground in Mozambique helping to co-ordinate the UK’s response to this disaster, and we hope to have vital UK aid supplies in the region shortly. We stand ready to scale up our support if needed.”

The UK have sent tents and shelter kits to those in Mozambique who have been forced to feel their homes, as well as prepositioned relief items including 9,000 hygiene kits, 7,000 tool kits, 6,000 family kits, and 1,000 latrine kits.

In addition, the Department for International Development have provided funding to international aid organisations, including the IFRC teams on the ground in Beira.

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Photographs: © UNICEF/UN0288660/Juskauskas, Kunje & Chipukunya

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