International Federation responds to the floods and cyclone in Mozambique and launches an appeal for Angola

Published: 22 February 2007

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is stepping up its response to the devastating floods affecting southern Africa, especially in Mozambique and Angola.

The situation has been made worse because of Cyclone Favio which has made landfall in Mozambique on Thursday with very strong winds. First reports indicate that it caused widespread damage in the area of Vilanculos, in the southern part of the country. All Mozambique Red Cross staff and volunteers are on high alert and responding. It is too early to know the extent of damages at this stage.

“Our early warning system has been activated and our staff and volunteers have disseminated information to communities. More funding is urgently needed to help us scale up our operation to help all victims,” says Fernanda Teixeira, Mozambique Red Cross Secretary General. The International Federation is sending an additional basic health care emergency response unit to help people affected by Cyclone Favio. A telecommunications team and a base camp will also be deployed within the next hours.

There are now 600 Mozambique Red Cross volunteers working around the clock to help the growing number of people affected by the floods. The figures have jumped from 88,600 to 121,000 people and they could further increase. The torrential rains, which began in January, caused rivers, including the Zambezi, to burst their banks.

In addition, the logistics emergency response unit from Danish and Swiss Red Cross is now operational in Beira. A relief emergency response unit from Spanish and Belgian Red Cross has also arrived. The International Federation’s field assessment and coordination team is supporting the Mozambique Red Cross in closely monitoring the situation in the entire affected area.

The health situation is a major concern, with the number of diarrhea cases increasing, and a heightened risk of cholera outbreaks.

The Federation launched an emergency appeal on 16 February for 7.5 million Swiss francs (US$ 5.6 million, euro 4.3 million) to support Mozambique Red Cross assistance to flood victims.

The Federation is closely following the situation in other countries in southern Africa also hit by the floods. It is launching an emergency appeal for 1.4 million Swiss francs (US$ 1.1 million/euro 874,200) to support Angola Red Cross in its response to the floods in the Luanda and Moxico provinces. The operation aims at providing assistance to 5,000 affected households, including 15,000 blankets, 15,000 mosquito nets, 10,000 water buckets and 5,000 kitchen sets, and to provide them with clean water. Health education activities conducted by Angola Red Cross volunteers will be stepped up.

“Even though the situation in Angola has not hit the headlines, the situation there is very serious”, says John Roche, the International Federation’s officer for southern Africa in Geneva. The heavy rains and subsequent flooding in the provinces of Luanda and Moxico since 21 January have affected more than 16,000 people and caused extensive damage to infrastructure. Cholera is endemic in Angola and the torrential rains have caused the number of cases to increase.

Since the 1st of January, at least 224 people have died and more than 6,500 new cases have been reported in 16 out of 18 provinces.

The International Federation is also closely monitoring the situation in other countries affected by torrential rains, floods and cholera, including Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia. National Red Cross Societies in these countries are delivering emergency relief to flood victims.