Saturday, March 23, 2019

Monumental Mozambique Misery

"They [the estimated number of dead and humanitarian needs] are nowhere near the scale and magnitude of the problem. And I fear we will be seeing more in the weeks and months ahead, and we should brace ourselves."
"The situation is simply horrendous, there is no other way to describe it. Three thousand people who are living in a school that has 15 classrooms and six, only six, toilets. You can imagine how much we are sitting on a water and sanitation ticking bomb."
Elhadj As Sy, secretary-general, International Federation of Rd Cross and Red Crescent Societies

"Yesterday [we] did a reconnaissance and we found another [inland] lake."
"So we are still very early in the phase of identifying what the scope of this is, for who is affected and how many are lost."
Emma Batey, coordinator, Oxfam, CARE, Save the Children consortium

"[What rescuers are seeing is] sometimes it's just a hut completely surrounded by water."
"If islands are big enough, we can even see smoke coming out, meaning that they're cooking."
"[It remains] super difficult [to estimate a death toll let alone the numbers missing]."
Pedro Matos, emergency co-ordinator, World Food Program

"I've never seen anything like this. We were not warned. Suddenly the roof flew away."
"[She and neighbours herded children away but] we lost some of them."
"[They have received nothing from aid groups or the government] not even bread."
Marta Ben, 30, mother of five
More than 65,000 people are already in shelters in central Mozambique [Enock Muchinjo/Al Jazeera]
More than 65,000 people are already in shelters in central Mozambique [Enock Muchinjo/Al Jazeera]

Parts of Mozambique are finally seeing flood waters recede as the estimated number of deaths rises above a thousand, the number the country's president predicted earlier in the week. Thousands of dazed and fearful survivors are slowly making their pilgrimage toward Beira, the city where 90 percent of its infrastructure has been destroyed. Despite which, it has become a centre for rescue efforts for the entire region.

People have made their cautious way along roads heavily carved by the raging floods days ago, while others were rescued as part of a local effort by fisherman plucking stranded people from small islands, to bring them to safety. Despite the rain, helicopters take off to search for people clinging to rooftops and branches of trees. Water-borne diseases threaten as a result of water and sanitation systems being destroyed.

In the centres, children absent parents, separated in the chaos or newly orphaned wait to be tended to, confused and fearful. Women stake out places for themselves and their children on sidewalks with nowhere else to go, awaiting aid that hasn't yet reached them. They sit there, barefoot, nursing cooking pots, minding their children and begging those passing by for help.

In Zimbabwe, school children and their headmasters are missing. Miners operating illegally looking for gold and diamonds, have been swept into the raging rivers. In the worst-affected part of Zimbabwe, a woman who had left Chimanimani for the diamond fields to search for her son-in-law, who mined illegally, buried and mourned him.

"There are no jobs and all he wanted was to feed his family. He was with his colleagues. They thought it would be easier to mine since the rains would keep the guards and the police away from patrolling", said Maina Chisirlirwa of her son-in-law who was swept away while his colleagues survived. Even police, arresting illegal miners were swept away with their prisoners.

People stranded by Cyclone Idai wait for rescue by the Indian Navy on March 22
Thousands of people are still awaiting rescue from flooded areas across in southern Africa   Getty Images

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