Thousands hit by Madagascar cyclone receive emergency UN food

Thousands hit by Madagascar cyclone receive emergency UN food

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today started sending supplies of emergency rice to thousands of people affected by Cyclone Ernest and the ensuing tropical storm that struck southwest Madagascar last week.

“Everyone who has been affected by these two terrible storms will receive relief food,” WFP Deputy Country Director Gianluca Ferrera said. “We will have a better picture of what’s needed in a day or two but in the meantime, food will be distributed to those who have been most critically affected by the flooding.”

At least 17 people were killed and 139 others are still reported missing after the two storms struck the province of Tulear. More than 11,000 people were made homeless. WFP plans to initially assist nearly 5,300 of the worst-affected while assessments are conducted to determine the extent of the damage.

“Initial indications are that the damage caused from these storms has not been as extensive as that caused by previous cyclones,” Mr. Ferrera noted. “That being said, many people will need help to start rebuilding their lives and repair their homes, and food aid will most certainly play an important role in enabling them to do this.”

Last year Madagascar was hit by one of the country’s worst storms when Cyclone Gafilo battered the northeast coast before crossing the large Indian Ocean island off southern Africa and wreaking devastation in the south. Gafilo killed 241 people and followed directly on the heels of another cyclone that killed 29 people.