One month after Cyclone Idai devastated parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) appealed to the international community to help some 1.6 million children still reeling from its impact.
“Children living in crowded shelters or away from their homes are at risk of diseases, exploitation and abuse,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, who visited Mozambique’s busy port city of Beira immediately after the cyclone hit.
Citing one million children in Mozambique, followed by more than 443,000 in Malawi and 130,000 in Zimbabwe, UNICEF said that the needs of children remain “massive”, including for healthcare, nutrition, education and water assistance.
Since the cyclone hit Mozambique, cholera has surged in to 4,600 cases and malaria to 7,500 cases.
UNICEF said that any prolonged interruption to essential services could lead to disease outbreaks and spikes in malnutrition – where children are especially vulnerable.
“The road to recovery will be long”, asserted Ms. Fore. “It is imperative that humanitarian partners are there every step of the way”.
According to the UN Children’s Fund, over 200,000 homes were destroyed in Mozambique alone and because the storm demolished crops just weeks before the harvest, food security is precarious.
Meanwhile, as thousands of people remain in evacuation camps, UNICEF expressed particular concern over the more than 130,000 displaced children, mostly in Mozambique and Malawi.
“We need to help children and families survive and then get back on their feet”, stressed the UNICEF chief.
To support its humanitarian response for children and families affected by the storm and its aftermath in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi over the next nine months, UNICEF has launched an appeal for $122 million.
UNICEF response actions to date include:
- Mozambique: Providing vaccines to immunize 900,000 people against cholera; distributing 500,000 mosquito nets to protect against malaria; and helping to restore Beira’s water supply for 500,000 people.
- Malawi: Providing safe water to more than 53,000 people and toilets to over 51,000 people; in evacuation centres, provided child friendly spaces, water trucks, toilets, medicines, recreation kits and volunteer teachers.
- Zimbabwe: Providing over 60,000 people with information to prevent waterborne diseases; distributing hygiene kits; rehabilitating water systems; restoring sanitation facilities; providing vital health and nutrition supplies; and, with partners, delivering psychosocial support to vulnerable children in child-friendly spaces.