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A girl stops to look as a man walks past carrying luggage on his head after Cyclone Idai in Buzi district outside Beira A girl stops to look as a man walks past carrying luggage on his head after Cyclone Idai in Buzi district outside Beira 

SIGNIS stands with Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi

In a message of solidarity released Friday, SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication has expressed solidarity with the people of southern Africa in particular victims of Cyclone Idai which devastated Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Africa Service, Vatican News – Vatican City

Hope that homes, communities, Churches will be rebuilt

In her message to presidents of episcopal conferences of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, SIGNIS President, Mrs Helen Osman, sought to encourage Church leaders of these communities facing an enormously difficult moment in their lives.

“The members of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication, offer our solidarity with your people in this difficult moment. As Catholic communicators, we know genuine, compassionate communication can comfort and encourage those who suffer such devastation. We support your efforts to provide a message of hope to your faithful. Together with you, they will rebuild their homes, their communities, their Church,” said Mrs Osman in her message.

The SIGNIS President further adds that SIGNIS members the world over embrace families who have lost loved ones and hold, in prayer, all those attempting to aid and comfort them, including first responders, aid agencies and civil authorities.

We pray for the recovery of your region

“Along with our members from the African continent, including our Vice-President Father Paul Samasumo from Zambia, we pray for the recovery of your region and the lives of its people. We commit ourselves to use the media to call people of good will to stand with you as you work to meet the urgent needs of your people,” Mrs Osman said.

According to a Friday Associated Press report, as flood waters began to recede in parts of Mozambique, fears have risen that the death toll could soar as bodies are revealed. The number of deaths could be beyond the 1,000 predicted by the country's president earlier this week, said Elhadj As Sy, the secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

A grim voyage towards the devastated city of Beira

In addition to worries about the number of dead, As Sy told AP that the humanitarian needs are great.

"They are nowhere near the scale and magnitude of the problem," As Sy said. "And I fear we will be seeing more in the weeks and months ahead, and we should brace ourselves."

Thousands of people were making a grim voyage toward the city of Beira, which although 90 per cent destroyed has become a centre for frantic rescue efforts throughout the region.

For those who reach Beira with their few remaining possessions, life is grim. Waterborne diseases are a growing concern as water and sanitation systems were largely destroyed.

The situation is horrendous

"The situation is simply horrendous, there is no other way to describe it," As Sy said after touring transit camps for the growing number of displaced. "Three thousand people who are living in a school that has 15 classrooms and six, only six, toilets. You can imagine how much we are sitting on a water and sanitation ticking bomb."

What moved him the most was the number of children without their parents, separated in the chaos or newly orphaned.

The survivors from inland Mozambique arrived by the boatload, some 50 at a time, mostly children, witnesses said.

"Some were wounded. Some were bleeding. Some had feet white like flour for being in the water for so long," said Julia

Residents of Beira muttered "Meu Dio!" ("My God") in Portuguese) as they went about the city and came across new scenes of destruction.

In Zimbabwe missing schoolchildren and headmasters

Zimbabwe was also affected by the cyclone and as roads began to clear and some basic communications were set up, a fuller picture of the extent of the damage there is beginning to emerge. The victims are diverse: a mother buried in the same grave with her child, headmasters missing together with dozens of school students, illegal gold and diamond miners swept away by raging rivers and police officers washed away with their prisoners.

The Ministry of Information said 30 pupils, two headmasters and a teacher are missing. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Thursday that officers and prisoners were washed away.

22 March 2019, 16:22