UN steps in as . . .
They came. They saw. And they were shocked by the level of devastation left bby Cyclone Idai.
A grim picture is slowly emerging of the scale of devastation that visited parts of eastern side of the Southern African sub-continent – Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – leaving millions of people struggling to start their lives all over.
“I was shocked by the destruction,” confessed United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller, ,in the aftermath of the unprecedented climate change-related Cyclone IDAI.
A crisis. A disaster. An emergence. What’s in a name – the need to act is paramount “ and as the UN we are committed to assist the affected countries”, said the international body.
“Whole stones sliding and knocking down houses, taking lives . . .A tent is not a home, people need houses to start their lives all over again,” Mueller told a n early media engagement at the end of her three-day visit to Zimbabwe sandwiched between a her visit to Mozambique and the final leg in Malwi.
The UN team mission was to assess the impact of the weather –induced event that has resulted in the loss of m lives – with hundred still reported unaccounted for and massive infrastructure damage and pointing to growing food insecurity coming after a drought last season.
These three neighbouring countries were hit and caught by surprise by the cyclone and and have ben appealing for assistance since a month ago.
And with the cold season setting in, everything to a long winter of desperation ahead.
“There is urgent need to provide shelter, housing, address health services and provide food relief,” said the UN official.
“We will work with government and development partners to address the impact of the disaster . . . and tell the authorities and people of Zimbabwe we stand with them in these trying times in efforts to mitigate the disaster,” she said.
Overall the humanitarian appeal has only managed to get to 45% of its needs and more still needs to be done.
“As President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who we met this morning, said we need to mitigate the impacts of climate-related change, said Mueller, explaining government had shared information that it was mulling to map disaster-prone areas and even move communities to less disaster-prone areas.
“Zimbabwe requires US$294 million for Cyclone Idai and drought mitigation,” said Ms Mueller, who arrived in the region last week on a seven-day assessment visit.
“The UN systems will help the Government to address the humanitarian needs and root causes to mitigate the effects of climate change. We met with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and ministers here today (yesterday) and discussed on how we can assist the affected people,” she explained.
Mueller said she had visited Chimanimani in the Eastern Highlands bordering Mozambique where the country was hit hardest, meeting some victims of the cyclone, and toured damaged residential sites where she witnessed some of the response activities by UN agencies in the selected areas.
“We discussed with the President how to move now from the response to the life-saving assistance to recovery assistance for the people we met in Chimanimani,” she said.
Cyclone Idai is but one of the challenges facing communities – following as it dies on the heels of the stifling El Nino- induced drought last season – fuelling a crisis.
“I talked to many people who were displaced, women , girls, families, Mueller said, explained that women and young girls were at risk of violence due to food insecurity. Not only that, but families faced hard choices (school) fees or (household) food.
It really never rains for these rural communities.