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Guida António watched her house collapse holding her five-day-old baby in her arms. Now she faces hunger at a shelter and relief centre in a school in Chimoio that was spared the fury of Cyclone Idai.
“I have not eaten since yesterday. I was told the food is all gone,” she tells Lusa with concern – because without eating she has difficulty breastfeeding the new-born.
“Without eating, there is no way for the child to suck milk,” she says, wide-eyed, as if looking around for a solution.
She is one of the hundreds of people in central Mozambique displaced by Cyclone Idai on Friday and now facing famine due to the lack of humanitarian assistance in spontaneously created support centres located in public schools.
Another resident reports that lack of food support is increasing desperation in the Trangapasso school accommodation centre daily, because the only means of survival were buried when the house collapsed.
“We have a food problem,” Amina Zacarias, a Mozambican with six children told Lusa. She is living and sleeping on the floor of a classroom, the tables and chairs pushed into a corner.
In the middle, where lessons would have taken place, there is now a bonfire, but the water on the fire already has only a remnant of corn flour in it.
Amina is asking for the authorities to distribute tents so that families can start a new life and “unleash” everyday life in their neighbourhoods again, in the hope that the waters will recede and they can return to the farmland they know and the places where they know how to look for food.
Among the cries of hungry children, the displaced in the shelters are calling for urgent humanitarian assistance in order to cope with the food shortage.
“We are suffering from hunger,” said Maria Rain, an elderly woman who alone supports four grandchildren in the accommodation centre, adding that “others are turning to corn cobs” which she, because of her lack of teeth, cannot eat.
Aid for victims at the Trangapasso support centre in Chimoio arrived courtesy of Save The Children, but the donation covered only two days and has not been replenished since Sunday.
“People are trying to get food by themselves,” Carlos Zambo, a teacher displaced by the cyclone, told Lusa.
Zambo said that authorities have already found a place to set up a housing centre and vacate the classrooms so that lesson s can start again.
At least two bridges collapsed and another five are still under water in the districts of Sussundenga and Mossurize, in the province of Manica. Mossurize district is isolated from the rest of the province and entry is only possible via Zimbabwe.
Crops in the Chimoio green belt, which guarantees the livelihood of hundreds of families through the production of cereal and vegetables, have been flooded.
President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi said on Monday that the number of deaths caused by Cyclone Idai could rise as high as 1,000, although 84 are confirmed so far.
The cyclone, with heavy rains and winds of up to 170 kilometres per hour, hit Beira, Mozambique’s fourth-largest city, on Thursday night, leaving about 500,000 residents without power and communications.
The Malawian government estimates that more than 920,000 people have been affected in 14 districts, including 460,000 children. At least 56 deaths have been officially recorded, along with 577 injured.
In Zimbabwe, initial estimates by the authorities are of about 1,600 houses and 8,000 people affected in the Chimanimani district of Manicaland, with 23 deaths and 82 registered missing.
By André Catueira (text) and Saulo Dima (image)Source: Lusa
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