Church agencies have rallied together to help more than half-a-million people in dire need after a cyclone hit Southern Africa last week.
It’s estimated that at least 1,000 people have died in Cyclone Idai which hit Mozambique on March 15, making landfall near the port city of Beira on Thursday with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph).
The country’s president, Filipe Nyusi, told Mozambican radio he had seen “many bodies” floating in the overflowing Pungwe and Busi rivers. “It appears that we can register more than 1,000 deaths,” he said, adding that more than 100,000 people were at risk because of severe flooding.
Responding to the disaster, aid teams of the Catholic relief organisation Caritas arrived to the city on March 17 to provide needed resources, including 1,500 canvases which will be sent to the area as soon as possible.
Antonio Anosso, humanitarian officer for Caritas Mozambique said: “We are still facing some challenges in getting information from Beira because there is no communication. There is lack of food, water and shelter.
“Our priority for staff in the disaster zone is rescuing people, accommodation, registering the affected group. But they do not have resources to respond to food, water and shelter needs.”
He added that the urgent needs are food, iron sheets, water and sanitation, shelter and seeds.
The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) also pledged €35,000 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.
At least 215 people have been confirmed dead and hundreds are missing across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe from the devastating cyclone, according to government agencies and the Red Cross, which said 1.5 million people had been affected.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that the government was conducting rescue missions and delivering food aid.
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. At least 20,000 houses have been partially damaged in the south-eastern town of Chipinge, 600 others were completely destroyed.
The Catholic Church in Mozambique expressed deep sorrow and solidarity with families who have lost loved ones and with thousands of families severely affected.