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Dual emergencies hit Mozambique

Cyclone Favio brings more misery to people deluged since January

Mozambique, 27 February 2007 – With more than 70,000 Mozambican children already homeless after three week’s of severe flooding, UNICEF says that Friday’s cyclone which devastated coastal towns has greatly increased the threat for a growing number of children.

Government, UNICEF, other UN agencies and non-Government (NGO) partners were prepared for the flooding that destroyed the homes of at least 140,000 people, but following a second emergency (Cyclone Favio) in a matter of weeks, all partners are now faced with the challenge of dramatically scaling-up the collective response.

“It is rare for a country to be hit by two massive and simultaneous emergencies within such a short period of time,” said the Head of UNICEF in Mozambique, Leila Pakkala. “Mozambique responded quickly to the flooding, but there is no quick fix, and all our problems around water & sanitation, shelter, health, and education are now exacerbated by this severe cyclone.”

UNICEF – which has already spent US$3million on the competing emergencies, responding to the growing needs of populations now sheltered in camps – has deployed:

  • 500 tarpaulin sheets to build shelters
  • 10,000 cans and buckets for fresh water
  • 55,000 long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito bednets
  • 40,000 information leaflets on cholera
  • 17metric tones of supplementary food (BP5)
  • and 21 staff to the devastated areas.

The UN Children’s Fund now says the rehabilitation of infrastructure, focusing on schools and hospitals, is a priority. When the eye of the cyclone hit the Mozambican mainland, the central hospital at Vilanculos was severely damaged and most wards were affected. Within hours of gaining access to the area UNICEF tents were erected and all patients (including surgery and maternity wards) were relocated and treatment has continued.

Cyclone Favio, which killed at least two children, has also damaged an estimated 220 classrooms, displacing thousands more children from the stability school offers during a crisis. In response UNICEF and partners have distributed 25,000 education kits for children, 2,800 kits for teachers and more than 30 tents to be used as temporary learning spaces.

“The next week is absolutely critical for those children who have lost homes, schools and are in danger of contracting diseases,” said UNICEF’s Pakkala. “The response has been express and effective, but it must be stressed that this can only continue while resources and actions on the ground are maintained.”

Current priorities for Government, United Nations and NGOs are to ensure water facilities are clean and serviceable, temporary health structures are functioning, children are back in school, and drugs and health equipment are delivered to all affected areas.
UNICEF is collaborating with the Government, other United Nations agencies and other partners in a multisectoral cluster approach. UNICEF is the lead partner for nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene and is co-leader with Save the Children in education and protection. UNICEF also works in health, which is led by WHO.

 

 
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