THE European Union (EU) has released nearly US$4 million in emergency aid to assist victims of Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, with the United Nations (UN) saying the disaster may be the worst ever to strike the southern hemisphere.
Cyclone Idai swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe over the past few days, destroying almost everything in its path and killing and injuring hundreds of people.
To help those affected, the EU announced an initial emergency aid package of €3,5 million (approx. US$3,97 million) on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management for the European Union Christos Stylianides said the union was concerned about the welfare of affected people.
“The EU stands in solidarity with all those people affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Just hours after the Cyclone’s impact, we are making emergency aid available to address the pressing humanitarian needs and to boost the local response efforts. In addition, we are sending our technical experts on the ground and our Copernicus satellite system has been activated to identify needs and help our humanitarian partners and the local authorities in their response.” reads the EU statement.
The EU funding will be used to provide logistical support to reach affected people, emergency shelter, hygiene, sanitation and health care.
Zimbabwe will receive US$567 000 from the fund and the remainder will go to Malawi and Mozambique, which was the worst affected.
United Nations World Food Program spokesperson, Mr Herve Verbosely, said the agency’s workers had described seeing “water and water for miles and miles” so severe it resembled an inland ocean where homes and towns had stood.
“The biggest challenge now is access, what our colleagues say is all that they see is water. If people are lucky they are on the rooftops of their houses, they waive to us as a sign for help. There are a lot of people whom we don’t know about, who are not as lucky,” said Mr Verbosely.
Meanwhile the United States of America has issued a statement pledging support for victims of Cyclone Idai.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe who have been affected by Cyclone Idai in Southern Africa. The United States is mobilising to provide support to our partners in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe to assist with the relief efforts. Our embassies in each of these countries stand ready to provide consular assistance to any US citizens who may have been affected. We offer our sympathies to those who were injured or who have lost loved ones,” said the US in a statement.
SADC also expressed its condolences to families of people who died due to the cyclone and commended efforts from all parts of the world to assist the affected communities.
The regional grouping’s executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax pledged unwavering support to Zimbabwe in a meeting she had with the Charge d’’ Affaires of the Embassy of Zimbabwe to Botswana, Ms Margaret Ruparanganda in the neighbouring country on Tuesday.
Ms Ruparanganda thanked the SADC executive secretary for the opportunity accorded to her to visit the Secretariat and pledged Government’s commitment in fostering the SADC Regional Integration Agenda.
She briefed the executive secretary about the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai and indicated that help was being mobilised from Zimbabweans and various other stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the meet the people rally that was scheduled for this Friday at Chachacha Business Centre in Shurugwi has been shelved to allow President Emerson Mnangagwa time to assess the impact of the cyclone
Zanu PF Midlands Provincial Spokesperson, Cde Cornelius Mpereri in a statement said a new date will be announced in due course.
“The Zanu PF Midlands department of information and publicity wishes to advise the Province that our intended Presidential Meet the People Rally which was scheduled for the 23rd of March at Chachacha Business Centre has been postponed until further notice.
“This is due to the fact that the nation has been plunged into mourning by the devastating effects of Cyclone Idai,” said Cde Mpereri.
President Mnangagwa cut short his official visit to the United Arab Emirates to attend to the disaster which has left a trail of destruction to infrastructure and property.
Meanwhile, in Victoria Falls tour operators sent a helicopter and a team of rafting guides to help people in Chimanimani.
The rescue team, which is in partnership with Econet Zimbabwe which is footing some of the expenses, will spend five days in Manicaland, said the general manager of Zambezi Helicopter Company Mr Collin Rupiya.
“We’re sending a pilot and an engineer with a helicopter Bell Jet 206 Long Ranger that can take six people. We’ve also taken some items for people that need help there.
“We’ve never seen this kind of disaster before and we saw a need to join others who are already there to help our people. The team is well motivated for the cause and prepared for the duration. They’ll probably spend five days helping those that are marooned seeing that a lot of roads have been damaged,” said Mr Rupiya.