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Cyclone Idai: international assistance urgently needed one month on

One month since Cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe - killing more than 1,000 people, with many more still missing and feared dead, and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless - the international community needs to do more to help those affected, Amnesty International said today.

Cyclone Idai first made landfall during the night of 14 March, leaving a trail of destruction across the three Southern African countries. To date, it has affected more than five million people, with children amongst the worst affected.

Vital infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, roads, sanitation facilities and communication networks have all been damaged. Thousands of acres of crops nearing harvest have been destroyed, raising fears of severe food insecurity in the months ahead. The full impact of the cyclone is yet to be established. 

Whilst the government-led humanitarian response in all three affected countries continues to scale-up, a huge funding gap remains. Of the around £300 million required, only around £70 million has been received. 

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, said:

“Cyclone Idai has left a trail of suffering, causing even more chaos in its aftermath. While international aid agencies and foreign and affected governments are racing against time to save more people, a lot more financial and technical resources are needed to ensure that people have access to the essential services they need.

“Thousands of people are still struggling to meet their basic needs as they still face food shortages, health risks, and lack access to clean water as a result of damaged infrastructure. More international assistance is needed to ensure that people do not run out of essentials like food, drinking water and medical supplies.

“People’s rights are at risk and need to be urgently protected.”

Thousands of cholera cases have been reported in the three countries since Cyclone Idai - resulting in a number of deaths - after people drank contaminated water due to disruption of usual water treatment. Thousands have received treatment and a vaccination programme is now in place. Thousands of cases of malaria have also been reported.

Strong weather-events such as Cyclone Idai are predicted to increase due to the effects of climate change. Governments must act on the impact of climate change to build increased capacity for future disaster risk management, with a special focus on strengthening the resilience of people most in need due to pre-existing patterns of exclusion and discrimination. 

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