GENEVA - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is appealing for $30.5 million to provide life-saving aid for 200,000 of the most vulnerable survivors of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique.
IFRC Secretary General Elhadi As Sy is launching this emergency appeal after returning from a visit to Beira in Mozambique. Cyclone Idai destroyed an estimated 90 percent of the coastal city, according to the Red Cross.
Sy says the scale of the crisis is staggering, and survivors' living conditions are appalling.
He says one shelter facility he saw is a disaster in the making.
"One of them I visited was in a school," said Sy. "Three thousand people in a school of 15 classrooms. And, the school itself is half flooded and there are only six toilets for all those people. So, it is not an exaggeration when I say that we are really sitting here on a water, sanitation, hygiene ticking bomb."
Sy warns of a high risk of water-borne diseases, such as typhus and cholera. He says these and other diseases pose a serious threat in catastrophic situations such as this. But notes they are preventable if speedy action is taken.
He says the Red Cross appeal will focus on providing emergency shelter, health care, water, sanitation and hygiene to those displaced by the cyclone.
Sy says aid workers will make a special effort to help the most vulnerable, the elderly, female-headed households, children, and the disabled — people who most often are left behind.
He says the IFRC also will include protection and psycho-social support among its life-saving interventions. In crisis situations, he says women and children are particularly susceptible to abuse, including sexual exploitation and trafficking.