Mozambique says it needs more than 70 million dollars in aid following recent flooding and a cyclone. The government estimates 170 thousand people have been displaced, most of them in the central part of the country.
Richard Lee is a spokesman for the World Food Program, one of the relief agencies in Mozambique, and has just returned from central Mozambique. From Maputo, he gave VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua an update on humanitarian operations.
“There’s still a lot of humanitarian assistance that is needed in the two disaster areas in Mozambique - the flooded Zambezi River Valley and also the areas that were affected by Cyclone Favio. The good bit of news is that the floods along the Zambezi are now receding. So, there is now more access to some of the displaced people. However, we’re talking about 140,000 people who’ve been displaced from their homes and they are totally reliant on humanitarian assistance. Not just food from the World Food Program, but also shelter, water and medicines. So it’s a huge task ahead,” says Lee.
How long are humanitarian operations likely to last? The WFP spokesman says, “At the moment, it looks like people in the accommodation centers are going to require assistance for at least the nest three or four months. What we’re hoping is that once the rainy season comes to an end, which is should do at the end of this month, the end of March, then people can start going back to their home areas. And hopefully they’ll be able to plant another crop, which should come to harvest around about June. So then people will have a crop of their own in July/August to get them through to the next main harvest in the beginning of 2008. Then once again that does depend on how much rain we get in the coming weeks and also what situation the people find when they do eventually get back home.”
Lee says that compared to the floods of 2000/2001, Mozambique was much better prepared this time, including better coordination with relief agencies. He also says the international community responded well to the crisis and is standing by to see what more aid may be needed.