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President Filipe Nyusi (in file CoM)
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, speaking in the ruined central city of Beira, on Thursday evening, announced measures taking immediate effect to speed up the reconstruction of Beira and all other cities, towns and districts affected by cyclone Idai, which struck central Mozambique a fortnight ago.
Addressing the nation, Nyusi said that estimates, based on satellite images and demographic surveys of the affected area, show that about 1.8 million Mozambicans could have been affected by the combined effect of the cyclone and the ensuing floods.
There was a time lapse between the two events. First, the cyclonic winds caused havoc in Beira and other coastal areas. Then the cyclone moved inland, and dumped huge quantities of rainfall on Zimbabwe. This water flowed back into Mozambique along the main river basis, causing massive floods in the Buzi and Pungoe valleys.
So far, the surveys on the ground indicate that around 804,000 people are directly affected “and of this number about 450,000 are now being assisted”, said Nyusi. “Unfortunately there has been loss of life, and the confirmed death toll so far is 468”.
“Although we don’t yet know the full scale and dimension of this disaster, we can certainly state that this is one of the worst natural disasters in living memory in Mozambique”, stressed the President.
He announced the end of the search and rescue phase of emergency operations. After 15 days of rescue work, all the people who had been trapped on rooftops, in trees, or on small islands surrounded by flood waters, have been taken to safety by boat or helicopter. Nyusi thanked “the anonymous Mozambican and foreign heroes, who risked their own lives to save our fellow citizens”.
The next phase, he said, will consist of a package of measures the government has approved under the Law on Natural Disasters to try and mitigate the impact of the cyclone and floods on social and economic life in the affected areas. These temporary measures will be applied in Beira and all other disaster-stricken areas between now and December.
The government is immediately tackling the threat of a cholera epidemic. Nyusi announced that 800,000 people will be vaccinated against cholera. To date 139 cases of cholera have been confirmed in Sofala province, mostly in Beira. All fees charged by the national health service have been suspended and free access to medication is guaranteed in the affected areas. Field hospitals, with operating theatres, will be set up in Beira, and in Buzi, Dondo, Nhamatanda and Sussundenga districts.
In education, the government has ordered the reprinting and redistribution of school text and exercise books. Over 3,000 classrooms were wrecked in the disaster, and huge numbers of books were soaked, and rendered useless. Nyusi also promised a 50 per cent cut in the price of electricity for businesses in the industry and trade sector. The government will also provide 100,000 agricultural tools and 1,000 tonnes of seed for short cycle crops in the affected areas.
The President guaranteed free rail transport for all emergency goods and donations, and a 50 per cent reduction in passenger fares on the lines from Beira to Machipanda (on the Zimbabwean border) and to Tete province (the Sena line).
Nyusi also pledged urgent restoration of water and electricity supplies, of the health network and of access roads to ensure a rapid normalisation of life in the central provinces. The government would work with the Mozambican business class to mobilise the funds needed for the resumption of economic activities.
The magnitude and scale of the disaster, he added, have impelled the government to work with specialist agencies in the transparent and credible administration of emergency aid. The government would “engage an international partner who will work with the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC – the country’s relief agency) to ensure all the elements of good management of the donated funds and goods, and to make available good quality information about the resources received and how they are being used”.
Nyusi made a glowing mention of the media, praising it for its reporting, that had been true to events on the ground, and had helped mobilise massive support from the international community.Source: AIM
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