Fears for cyclone-hit communities in Mozambique as rains return
The government of Mozambique has ordered the removal of Cyclone Idai internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the schools where they were sent when the tragedy left them homeless. They are being transferred to accommodation centres in a process that began Monday morning and was expected to be concluded by the end of the day.
Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, told Publico that it was imperative to restart classes and to continue with the school year – “to begin resuming normal life”.
At the moment, 90,000 children are not going to schools whose buildings were used during the emergency.
“This morning we began to remove all the displaced from the schools,” Minister Celso Correia, who is officially coordinating the response to the natural disaster in central Mozambique, told Público yesterday. “We are already taking people to the accommodation centres. The schools functioned as transit centres because they were infrastructures which at least provided emergency shelter, but now we are going to evacuate them and we hope to have the schools back by the end of the day and be able to begin getting back to normal,” he explained.
With the schools occupied by cyclone victims, children stopped going to class, the prolongation of which situation was cause for concern for families and education professionals. “Children cannot go without schooling,” Anália Jorge Intara, headmistress of the Eduardo Mondlane School in the centre of Beira, told Publico.
Minister Correia acknowledges this, although he does not want to commit to a certain date for the resumption of classes: “This is being evaluated,” he says.
“We have about 90,000 children who are currently not attending school, but we will approach this cautiously, because, in addition to the physical disaster, material loss and loss of life, there is shock in the community. We have to give time and psychological assistance, but we think that the resumption of teaching will also bring some encouragement,” he explains.
The Ministry of Education is preparing a timeline to address the forced break in schooling. “To see that [the children] do not miss the academic year, and if we can recover the lost teaching time,” Minister Correia explained.
With the sharp drop in water levels and improving weather conditions, the number of dead remained stable at 446 on Monday, while the number of people rescued from areas isolated by the floods increased by about 180,000.
Changing conditions on the ground have also improved the progress of search and rescue operations. “We are increasing the number of logistics bases to facilitate a more efficient operation,” the minister said.
The cholera challenge
The move is now important to get closer to those affected – not to move them from their areas of residence, but to deliver food and medical assistance. Medical care “will be the challenge in the coming weeks,” says the minister. “We are sure to have an outbreak of diseases like malaria, cholera.” Correia promises that the government has set up a cholera treatment centre, and that, in hospitals, patients who show symptoms of cholera are being isolated.
In Beira Central Hospital, patients with diarrhoea are being medicated and sent back to health centres because laboratory equipment has been damaged by the cyclone and there is no way to confirm that patients with symptoms are even infected.
At the Munhava Health Centre, in Beira’s busiest neighbourhood, some patients are receiving serum on stretchers in the street, with Doctors Without Borders putting up stands for the bags of saline essential to treat the severe dehydration typical of cholera.
Contamination prevention has been set up, with masks and disinfection of hands and rubber footwear, but Publico reporters was prevented from talking to people or taking photographs at Munhava Health Centre – by order of the Mozambican Ministry of Health, according to a source from Doctors Without Borders.
By Antonio FigueiredoSource: Publico.pt