Beira/Nairobi/Geneva, 22 March 2019 – The Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC ), Elhadj As Sy, speaking at the end of a visit to Beira, Mozambique and surrounding areas, said:
“The scale and scope of suffering and damage is breath taking. Hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted in some way. We must respond fast and at scale, and prepare to accompany the affected populations on a longer term.”
Mr Sy visited areas outside of Beira that were flooded by the cyclone. He also joined Mozambique Red Cross volunteers at the port in Beira as they received people who had been evacuated from flooded areas by boat.
“I was able to fly over some of the flooded areas. The scale of this crisis is staggering. But we can’t forget that it is an intimate and human crisis. Tens of thousands of families have lost everything. Children have lost parents. Communities have lost schools and clinics.
“Tragically, we know that the full picture of this disaster is probably even worse than it seems now. The death toll will probably rise further as more and more areas are reached and as more and more bodies are recovered,” said Mr Sy.
There is growing concern among aid groups on the ground of potential disease outbreaks. Already, some cholera cases have been reported in Beira along with an increasing number of malaria infections among people trapped by the flooding.
Mr Sy called on governments and donors to support the IFRC and Mozambique Red Cross preliminary emergency appeal for 10 million Swiss francs. These funds will allow Red Cross volunteers and aid workers to reach 75,000 people. This appeal will be substantially increased in the coming days as IFRC expands its operation to reach more people. Relief efforts are primarily focused on providing emergency shelter, health, water, sanitation and hygiene.
Already, 1,500 emergency shelter kits that have already been distributed by Red Cross volunteers, providing families with protection from the elements and some degree of privacy and dignity. Shelter supplies for about 3,000 families will arrive by boat next week from a French Red Cross warehouse on Réunion island.
A further dispatch of basic relief supplies (including tarpaulins, buckets and blankets) – enough for 37,500 people – will arrive mid next week.
In addition, two IFRC Emergency Response Units (ERU) – one that can provide basic sanitation facilities for 20,000 people, and one that can produce clean water for 15,000 people per day – will arrive in Beira early next week. A third logistics ERU is also en route.
In Mozambique: Caroline Haga, +358 50 598 0500, FactComms.Mozambique@ifrc.org
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, firstname.lastname@example.org
In Geneva: Matthew Cochrane, 41 79 251 80 39, email@example.com