Survivors of Cyclone Idai in a makeshift shelter by the roadside near Nhamatanda about 50 kilometres from Beira, in Mozambique, March, 22, 2019.
Survivors of Cyclone Idai in a makeshift shelter by the roadside near Nhamatanda about 50 kilometres from Beira, in Mozambique, March, 22, 2019.

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.

A man carries his children after Cyclone Idai at Praia Nova, in Beira, Mozambique, March 23, 2019.
Nearly Half of Cyclone Idai’s Victims Are Children
The U.N. children’s fund reports nearly half of the 1.7 million people affected by Cyclone Idai in southern Africa are children. The official number of deaths across the region has now risen to over 700. But this figure is expected to increase once the waters have receded and the bodies of those who have drowned and gone missing are found.Conditions in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe remain critical. Thousands of people are still trapped by the flood waters, many huddled on rooftops and in trees…

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.

Veronica Fatia carries her 2-year-old daughter as they travel in a wooden boat to Buzi district, 200 kilometers (120 miles) outside Beira, Mozambique, on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
Mozambican Families Hunt for Loved Ones Separated by Cyclone
The young mother huddled on a wooden boat clutching her 2-year-old daughter, headed for the unknown: The flooded town of Buzi, which thousands have fled with little but the clothes on their backs.Fishermen’s boats have been ferrying out Buzi’s displaced, sometimes scores of people crammed into a single vessel. But Veronica Fatia was going against the tide, up waters that only recently carried corpses to the sea. She was looking for her mother, hoping she was still alive. …

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.