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Thousands Displaced by Floods in Mozambique


In central Mozambique 140,000 people have lost their homes due to flooding that has also destroyed more than 100 schools. Relief workers are scrambling to provide food, shelter and health services to these people whose numbers continue to grow. Correspondent Scott Bobb has been in the region and has this report on one other aspect of the relief effort -- providing schools for the displaced children.

School is open in Chupanga, a camp for people who lost their homes due to the floods along the Zambezi River Basin. Classes have started for more than 700 primary school children.

Local officials have opened temporary classrooms using tents and materials supplied by UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund.

Chupanga Camp is home to more than 8,000 displaced people. It is the largest camp in the region. The children receive clothes, schoolbooks and school kits with pencils and copy books.

Luisa Antonio Charanda teaches Portuguese, math, music and physical education. She teaches a morning and an afternoon class, each with more than 150 students. She says the children's health is not very good. "Many are sick. When they get here they have to go to the hospital. Many children have coughs. Many are suffering."

Lisa Doherty is UNICEF's Education Coordinator. She says, after a disaster, children are often confused and disjointed. At the same time they receive little attention from the adults who are busy trying to cope with the crisis.

"It's very important that they can resume school as quickly as possible, that they are in a structured environment where they are with their friends, their peers, also teachers who can look after them and protect them in a safer environment such as a school, if it's still functioning, or a temporary learning space (such as we've created in some of the camps here)."

The district education director, Vasco Zakarias, praises the relief agencies, but he says more help is needed in order to enroll hundreds of other children who still are not in school. He expects the crisis to last for months.

"I think the whole first trimester will be like this. Maybe when we get to the second trimester, the waters will have gone down, maybe then they can go back," hopes Zakarias.

Many of these children lived on islands in the river and have never been to school. Relief workers are going tent-to-tent urging parents to take advantage of the situation and educate their kids.

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