Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, founder of the Enlighten Christian Gathering (ECG), has appealed for financial support to help millions of people that have been affected by tropical Cyclone Idai.
The cyclone, which hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe on March 15, 2019, has caused and heavy loss of life and significant devastation to communities, destroying homes and infrastructure.
The UN says 1.7 million people in Mozambique lived in the path of the cyclone and that that over nine hundred thousand people have been displaced in Malawi and several thousands more have been affected in Zimbabwe.
So far, about 1000 are feared dead. The toll is, however, expected to rise further as the United Nations says officials will only be able to determine the final casualty figure once the flood waters have receded.
The overall humanitarian response is being severely hampered by continuing heavy rain, floodwaters, and because roads, bridges, and communications have been damaged or entirely destroyed.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, said upon visiting Beira, one of the areas worst affected by Cyclone Adai, declared: “we are in a race against time to help and protect children in the disaster-ravaged areas” as it is estimated that of those affected by Cyclone Idai and subsequent floods in Mozambique, one million are children.
“Aid agencies are barely beginning to see the scale of the damage. Entire villages have been submerged, buildings have been flattened, and schools and health care centers have been destroyed. While the search and rescue operations continue, it is critical that we take all necessary measures to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases which can turn this disaster into a major catastrophe.”
Aid agencies are concerned that flooding, combined with overcrowded conditions in shelters, poor hygiene, stagnant water and infected water sources, is putting them at risk of diseases like cholera, malaria and diarrhoea.
“Every day we discover that the destruction left by Cyclone Idai is worse than we imagined. We are deeply concerned about remote communities that are cut-off by flooding and landslides and are yet to receive any humanitarian assistance. More rain is expected to come, which will compound the suffering of people who have already lost everything,” said Hicham Mandoudi, head of the International Committee of the Red’s (ICRC) sub-delegation in Beira, Mozambique.
“Families have been separated or lost contact in the storm. The agony of not knowing what happened to your loved one in a disaster like Cyclone Idea is indescribable. We are deploying staff to Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe to set up systems to help families without access to phone or internet find their missing relatives,” said Diane Araujo, an ICRC delegate deploying to Beira.
Elizabeth Banda (38) from one of the worst affected areas in Malawi told Oxfam that “If things do not change we shall all perish. No one will be left behind.”
In a message issued on Saturday, Prophet Bushiri appealed for more funds reportedly to help the victims
“We have already done a lot to reach out to disaster victims as I had directed last Sunday. But we need to do more.
“We need to raise more funds and, starting Tuesday, our team will be in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to support our brothers and sisters,” he said.
Cyclone Idai started as a tropical depression in Malawi, where it forced families from their homes into churches, schools and public buildings before it hit Mozambique at a speed of 177km an hour (106 mph). Thereafter, the cyclone moved to Zimbabwe where it also caused significant damage to schools and water systems.
Aid workers are slowly delivering relief, but conditions are said to be extremely difficult, with some areas completely inaccessible and helicopters scarce.