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Red Cross Launches Appeal for Mozambique Flood Victims

  • Lisa Schlein

Aerial views shows a road that has been washed away by flood waters in Chokwe, Mozambique, Jan. 30, 2013.

Aerial views shows a road that has been washed away by flood waters in Chokwe, Mozambique, Jan. 30, 2013.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says it needs $700,000 for emergency aid to flood victims in Mozambique. A quarter of a million people are affected by the ongoing floods, with an estimated 140,000 made homeless.

These are the most severe floods to hit southern and central Mozambique since 2000, when more than 700 people died and one million were displaced.

Fewer than 100 people have been killed in this year's floods. The International Red Cross Federation says the smaller death toll indicates Mozambique's disaster prevention program and early warning system are working.

But torrential rains have caused widespread destruction to homes, schools, health centers and crops, forcing the affected populations to leave their homes in search of safer areas. The rains are forecast to continue until April.

Red Cross spokeswoman Jessica Sallabank says Gaza is the most badly hit province in the country.

"One-hundred-thousand people in this province have been displaced ... Many people are sleeping out in the open," Sallabank said. "They are sleeping in the bush. It sounds like quite a desperate, chaotic scene there. Forty thousand are estimated to be in makeshift camps in Chokwe city ... So, in this entire area you see a massive displacement problem."

The Mozambique Red Cross reports food, water and other relief supplies are in extremely short supply. Sallabank says health concerns also are rising.

"The risk of malaria, diarrhea, cholera is very, very high," Sallabank said. "You know people are sleeping outside with no mosquito nets, next to stagnant, dirty water -- no water, no sanitation. You can imagine the scene with 200,000 people living like this.... It is a very, very serious situation."

The Red Cross says the floods have hit more than 100,000 hectares of agricultural land. It calls this a disaster for people who depend on crops for their livelihood.

The Red Cross is also expressing concern the needs of thousands of survivors of Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines are all but forgotten. Two months have passed since this super-typhoon devastated wide areas of Mindanao, damaging more than 216,000 homes. It says 95 percent of the six million people affected continue living in their broken houses or in makeshift shelters, a situation that is potentially dangerous.

Despite the ongoing emergency, the Red Cross notes its appeal for nearly $18 million is only 30 percent covered. The agency warns these fragile communities will not be able to recover from this disaster without humanitarian support.
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