Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
WEDNESDAY, 23 APR 2014
08:05 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
17 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
International
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Mozambique floods prompt humanitarian crisis
Agence France Presse
A group of people, mostly women, children and elderly people, who escaped floods in southern Mozambique gather at a camp set up for displaced people on January 24, 2013 in Chokwe. AFP PHOTO / JINTY JACKSON
A group of people, mostly women, children and elderly people, who escaped floods in southern Mozambique gather at a camp set up for displaced people on January 24, 2013 in Chokwe. AFP PHOTO / JINTY JACKSON
A+ A-

CHIAQUELANE, Mozambique: Tens of thousands of Mozambicans are stranded without food and water after floods swept through the south of the country this week, sparking a large-scale humanitarian crisis.

With the displaced now living in the open and eating grasshoppers to survive, the Mozambican government and international agencies like the Red Cross are warning of a looming catastrophe.

When the floods came on Wednesday, residents of Chokwe town escaped the raging flow of the Limpopo River with what little they could carry.

Alegria Hlangwe only had time to grab one of her children. Her other two sons were across town.

"People told me they took shelter in someone's house. I don't know if that is true," the anxious mother said.

The heaviest rains had stopped several days earlier, but it was already too late.

Swollen by downpours in neighbouring South Africa and Zimbabwe, the flood wave was on its way.

"No one really thought this could happen," said Sergio Chauke, who escaped with only his identity documents.

Those who could bundled into vehicles and fled the town.

"Those who did not have transport climbed onto the top of buildings," Chauke said.

Sergio and his sister are now among tens of thousands of people camped out by the roadside outside the town.

Kilometre after kilometre, in groups of five to 500, people huddling under trees have spread out their belongings to dry.

More are arriving constantly, some on foot along with their livestock. Most are women, children and the elderly.

They have nothing to protect them from more rains or the clouds of mosquitoes that are starting to gather.

As they wait for help to arrive, hunger is setting in.

"We are eating grasshoppers," Alice Mabunda said, but she believes they are the lucky ones.

"We have family in the town, our aunts. They must be on the rooftops now," she said.

Ten-year-old Mercia managed to save her pet rabbit from the flood but little else.

"We left at midnight without taking food. We have nothing to sleep under."

Her mother, Anastasia Antonio, is simply glad the rains have abated.

"Thank God it is not raining, but if it does it will be a crisis for the children," she said.

The risk of disease has skyrocketed.

Diarrhoea is already the biggest killer of children in Mozambique, and without latrines a cholera outbreak may not be far away.

"We dug a hole, but the ground is so soft," Antonio said. "It will only be all right for a few days, not longer. It is not safe."

A few kilometres down the road is a government camp to help flood victims.

It last operated during devastating floods of 2000 that killed an estimated 800 people and displaced millions.

But the huge crowds waiting there for food are disappointed.

"It is three days now. We have nothing to eat, nowhere to sleep, no clothes. I left as I am," said mother of six Alice Mukavele.

"There is very little food," said International Red Cross official Armando Djedji. "We are prioritising children, heads of family, the elderly and the sick."

-- 'These people have lost everything' --

So far the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the only humanitarian organisation on the ground.

It can provide only 40 large tents -- enough for 400 people -- and is trying to install latrines and secure clean water sources.

The government had managed to bring in 55 sacks of rice, promising more was on its way.

The numbers they will have to feed are hard to estimate. Around 6,000 families had already turned up at the centre the Red Cross estimated.

"We need support here. These people have lost everything," visiting health ministry official Marco Chipanga told AFP.

Aid agencies based in the capital Maputo promised that a week's supply of food was on its way to the area late Thursday.

With their homes and belongings washed away by the floods, many now face an uncertain future.

"Nobody knows when they will be able to go back -- whether days or weeks," said Chipanga adding, "It depends if it rains any more."

 
Home International
 
     
 
Mozambique
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Tuesday April 22, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS