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Save the Children to Help Flood Victims in Mozambique

British-based aid agency, Save the Children, has launched an appeal to raise money to help thousands of children who have been forced to leave their homes to avoid devastating floods in Mozambique. From London, Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA.

In its statement announcing the launch of its Mozambique flood appeal, aid group Save the Children says 65,000 people, more than half of them children, have been made homeless by rising floodwaters and have moved into emergency resettlement camps.

But according to Save the Children country director Chris McIvor, the situation might get worse than the 2007 floods, which affected a quarter of a million people.

"We are still at the beginning of the rainy season and the water levels that we are seeing now are almost up to the same levels of water that we saw in March last year at the height of the big floods," he said. "The rains in the region have already been very heavy and are predicted to continue for the rest of the season, which basically runs through until the end of March or April. So, we have these kind of figures now and we have got another three months ahead of us. We are really concerned that this has the potential to be a really major disaster."

McIvor added that families coming into the camps may have enough food for two to three weeks, but since most of the land is under water, food shortages are imminent. Also, McIvor said the possibilities of communicable diseases increase when people are forced to live close to each other in large numbers.

VOA asked McIvor what is being done to ensure that people do not keep returning to flood-prone areas that attract them with their fertile lands.

"We do not particularly want to have to engage in emergency response for these people every year for the next 20, 30 years, and so there is plans to have a resettlement program where people will be encouraged to move to higher land," he added. "The only constraint around that resettlement program is if you do not get people economic opportunities in the areas to which you want them to resettle, then they will inevitably gravitate towards the same areas because that is where they derive their economic livelihoods."

The areas in the Zambezi Valley are the hardest hit at the moment, according to McIvor, but water levels on other rivers such as the Save, Buzi, and Pungue are rising, which will result in more people having to move.