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WFP chief urges more aid for cyclone-hit Mozambique


Beira (Mozambique), March 28 (IANS/AKI) United Nations World Food Programme chief David Beasley on Wednesday called on the world to step up aid for nearly two million people who are in urgent need of food and other basic items in cyclone-battered Mozambique.
"These people's lives have been devastated, they have no livelihoods now, they've lost their homes, they've lost their farms, they've lost their crops, they've lost loved ones," Beasley said after a two-day visit to Mozambique.
Survivors of the cyclone, which killed at least 468 people in Mozambique, will need help at least for the next six to 12 months "to get back on their feet", he said.
"I urge the international community to respond quickly and generously, because lives are truly in the balance right now."
Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique on March 14, where it devastated the populous port city of Beira and then tore inland through Zimbabwe and Malawi, killing a further 300 people in those countries.
An estimated 400,000 hectares of crops - primarily maize - were washed away in Mozambique just weeks ahead of the main April-May harvest. Other key sources of income, including livestock and fisheries, have also been badly affected, according to the WFP.
Victims will need sustained support to recover from the cyclone, which in the case of subsistence farmers will not be until the next main harvest in mid-2020, the UN agency noted.
"We need to work together with the Government of Mozambique and the communities to ensure rehabilitation is done in a way that will prevent this devastation happening again, build better everything: houses, schools and health centres to stand the shocks," Beasley added.
Cyclone Idai has demonstrated how vulnerable communities are to climate shocks and the disaster will inevitably push up already high malnutrition rates, WFP warned.
WFP said it hopes to reach "as soon as possible" all 1.7 million Mozambicans urgently in need of food. It said has provided food assistance to more than 150,000 people since Idai hit and intends to reach half a million "in the coming weeks".
Homeless cyclone victims sheltering in scores of schools and churches in Beira and surrounding areas have received easy-to-prepare fortified blended food, WFP said. Sixty metric tons of high energy biscuits airlifted into the country have been dropped by helicopter to people stranded by the floodwaters, said the agency.
With 86,000 metric tons of commodities needed in the next three months, WFP is sourcing large quantities of cereals, vegetable oil and fortified blended foods elsewhere in southern Africa, and shipping and trucking them into Mozambique.
WFP has deployed to Beira three MI-8 transport helicopters and a freight aircraft to support the broader humanitarian response and has been working to re-establish vital networks that can accelerate the response by government and humanitarian agencies.
Almost 60 additional WFP staff have been deployed to Mozambique, and 45 more are on the way: emergency coordinators, air operations managers and programming, logistics and telecommunications experts.
WFP requires $140 million for the next three month and has designated Mozambique a level-three emergency, placing it on par with Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.
The UN has appealed for $282m to help cyclone victims in Mozambique.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called the cyclone "one of the worst weather-related catastrophes in the history of Africa".

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First Published: Mar 28 2019 | 12:02 AM IST

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