The United Nations is launching a $35 million emergency appeal for Madagascar, which is suffering from multiple crises, including cyclones, drought and political instability.
Cyclone Jade is the latest crisis to hit the Indian Ocean Island of Madagascar. Aid agencies are scrambling to assess the damage caused by the storm, which struck on Monday.
But, spokeswoman for the UN Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, Elizabeth Byrs, tells VOA the assessment mission is being hampered by bad weather conditions.
"It is very difficult, and it is impossible for helicopters to be dispatched to the affected area," Byrs said. "But, we expect floods because of the heavy rains with this new cyclone. And, those people have not recovered yet from the two January cyclones."
The cyclone season runs from December through April. Byrs says 60,000 people who were affected by the two cyclones that hit the east and west coasts of the island in January still have not recovered.
People in the northern parts of Madagascar say Jade caused considerable damage, with trees uprooted and electricity and water supplies cut off in most areas.
The United Nations estimates nearly 3.5 million people living in the main cities and in the drought-affected south need humanitarian assistance. U.N. aid agencies say food insecurity in the south is expected to worsen, as the lack of rain is likely to delay the next harvest by three months.
Byrs says it is more difficult to help the victims of these natural disasters because of the political instability, which has been gripping the country for several months.
"For instance, the Disaster Management Authority stocks have been burglarized during this period of rioting and social unrest," Byrs said. "That is why we are very concerned because without pre-positioning stocks and food, it will be more than difficult to help the victims of this new cyclone, if there are any, and to address the needs of the more than 60,000 people who are still starting to recover from the previous cyclones."
Byrs says more than 300,000 children under five as well as 145,000 pregnant or nursing women are among those most in need of help. She says they have special nutritional and health care requirements.