THE official death toll of the humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in Mozambique rose sharply over the weekend as authorities and aid agencies reported many more deaths.
Besides the death toll increasing sharply it is now estimated that more than 1, 8 million people of which more than half are children have been displaced and are now facing secondary dangers such as hunger and diseases.
Across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi the official death toll is already estimated to be more than 750 people. The number of dead is however expected to rise further as receding flood waters reveal more and more destruction and death.
United Nations officials will only be able to determine the final casualty figure once the flood waters have receded completely. It was also reported that an unknown number of people that drowned in the initial flood and were washed down rivers started washing up on the Mozambican coast near Beira.
The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Saturday that the Buzi and Zambezi rivers were at risk of breaking their banks and causing secondary and dangerous floods.
“We’re going to have to wait until the flood waters recede until we know the full expanse of the toll on the people of Mozambique,” OCHA co-ordinator Sebastian Rhodes Stampa said.
Thousands remain trapped by the floodwaters, and many of the Mozambican government’s relief centres have only just started receiving food supplies.
At least 1.8 million people across Mozambique of which an estimated 900 000 are children, have been affected by Cyclone Idai and many areas are still not accessible by aid agencies which means that the actual number of people impacted could possibly be much higher
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said at the end of a visit to Beira, one of the areas worst affected by Cyclone Adai that the final number of affected people will be much higher.
“We are in a race against time to help and protect children in the disaster-ravaged areas of Mozambique. The situation will get worse before it gets better. Aid agencies are barely beginning to see the scale of the damage. Entire villages have been submerged, buildings have been flattened, and schools and health care centres have been destroyed. While the search and rescue operations continue, it is critical that we take all necessary measures to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases which can turn this disaster into a major catastrophe.”
UNICEF is concerned that flooding, combined with overcrowded conditions in shelters, poor hygiene, stagnant water and infected water sources, is putting them at risk of diseases like cholera, malaria and diarrhoea.
“We are particularly concerned about the safety and well-being of women and children who are still waiting to be rescued or are crammed in temporary shelters and at risk of violence and abuse. We are also concerned about children who were orphaned by the cyclone or became separated from their parents in the chaos that followed,” Fore said
Sources: bbc.com & UNICEF