In Malawi homes destroyed by heavy rains following cyclone Freddy's landfall. In Malawi homes destroyed by heavy rains following cyclone Freddy's landfall.  (AFP or licensors)

Mozambique: Bishops appeal for solidarity with victims of Cyclone Freddy.

The Catholic Bishops of Mozambique have made a passionate appeal for solidarity with the victims of Cyclone Freddy, which has ravaged the Southern African countries of Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi.

Vatican News.

The hardest hit country is Malawi which by Friday evening reported a death toll of over 326 persons. In all, Cyclone Freddy has left death and destruction in Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi.

humanitarian aid

According to the wire service, Reuters, the international community is scrambling to make humanitarian aid available for rescue efforts in Malawi, amid flooding.

To help in search and rescue efforts, foreign aircraft and boats are arriving in Malawi, where entire villages were swept away by floods after a storm tore through Malawi’ southern districts, officials said on Friday.

The storm has pounded the southern African country as tropical Cyclone Freddy swept through the region killing more than 400 people in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar since it first made landfall in Africa, late February and circled back to hit the region for a second time last weekend.

Rains hampering rescue efforts

While the storm has now dissipated, rain continued to hamper rescue efforts as vehicles were not able to pass through flooded roads.

Malawi's police inspector, Casper Chalera, told Reuters by telephone that the first rescue vessels will arrive from Zambia and Switzerland, adding that the U.S. and South Africa were also planning to send aid aircraft and boats.

"Two Zambian planes, one carrying relief items and a helicopter for aerial operations have landed," Chalera said.

Lameck Kalenga, Defence Force Deputy Chief of military operations, told media on Thursday that the United Kingdom and Mozambique had also pledged to send military equipment.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said it was providing food assistance by distributing partially pre-cooked food called corn-soya blend to displaced people.

Burial of victims of a mudslide at Chilobwe township in Blantyre.
Burial of victims of a mudslide at Chilobwe township in Blantyre.

High food prices and Cholera

"(Severe flooding) has inundated farmlands and destroyed produce – just as farmers were about to harvest the only crop of the year - compounding an already difficult year in which 3.8 million people need food assistance," the WFP said in a statement.

It added that the country has been affected by high maize prices and the worst cholera epidemic in decades.

At least 76 people have died in Mozambique and 326 in Malawi since last weekend, according to government figures. The storm had already killed about 27 people in Madagascar and Mozambique before it lashed Mozambique a second time.

Since the second half of February, Mozambique has been ravaged by Tropical Cyclone Freddy, a phenomenon that has already caused loss of human lives, destruction of several infrastructures and left thousands homeless.

Mozambique: That they may have life

Attentive to the situation, the Catholic Bishops of Mozambique, issued an appeal on Thursday, 16 March, urging humanitarian solidarity with the victims of Cyclone Freddy. The appeal is signed by the Archbishop of Nampula and President of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM), Archbishop Inácio Saúre.

The Bishops' Conference of Mozambique invites all Catholic Christians in Mozambique, people of good will and their partners to act like Jesus who says: "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full" (Jn. 10: 10).” To to this end, the Bishops write, “we urge a union of efforts to help brothers and sisters severely affected by Cyclone Freddy to restore their lost human dignity.”

Cyclone Freddy hits Quelimane in Mozambique
Cyclone Freddy hits Quelimane in Mozambique

(Additional reporting: Rogério Maduca - Radio Pax, Beira, Mozambique)

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18 March 2023, 15:37