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Southern Hemisphere’s Worst Weather Disasters Ever, Claims UN On Cyclone Idai

"We have also called on South African companies to donate for humanitarian assistance and following this morning's assessment, we'll make a further announcement for how we'll assist going forward," he said Tuesday.

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Family members dig for their son, who got buried in the mud when Cyclone Idai struck in Chimanimani about 600 kilometers southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe, March 19, 2019. VOA

Cyclone Idai may be one of the worst weather disasters ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, U.N. experts say, with Mozambique suffering the brunt of the storm.

Idai tore across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe late last week, leaving behind a trail of devastation, including more than 350 people killed, hundreds missing, and hundreds of thousands homeless.

Mozambique’s death toll exceeded 200 Tuesday, President Filipe Nyusi said, after saying earlier the final number of dead could top 1,000.

Officials say the cyclone created an “inland ocean” across the country.

Soldiers and paramedics carry injured people from a helicopter in Chimanimani, about 600 kilometers southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe, March, 19, 2019.
Soldiers and paramedics carry injured people from a helicopter in Chimanimani, about 600 kilometers southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe, March, 19, 2019. VOA

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies called the damage to the coastal city of Beira “massive and horrifying.” They estimate 90 percent of the city was destroyed.

Rescue workers were dropping food, fresh water, and blankets to flood victims stranded on roofs, treetops, and any high piece of land. Airdrops are the only way to help most people in Beria, where roads are under water and communications gone.

Mozambique-based UNICEF spokesman Daniel Timme told VOA via Skype Tuesday officials are still getting details on the impact of the storm.

“At the moment, we still don’t have the full picture of the situation, but we agree with the assessment of the government that the disaster is of a dimension which is much, much bigger than we thought in the beginning,” he said. “This is due to the fact that information was coming in very slowly, because the city of Beira had been cut off of all communication lines and still is, and has also been cut off physically because the roads to Beira are destroyed.”

FILE - Drone footage shows destruction after Cyclone Idai in the settlement of Praia Nova, which sits on the edge of Beira, Mozambique, March 18, 2019.
Drone footage shows destruction after Cyclone Idai in the settlement of Praia Nova, which sits on the edge of Beira, Mozambique, March 18, 2019. VOA

​Timme says UNICEF is appealing to international donors for more than $20 million to support its response in the three affected countries.

“We are at the same time actually preparing to supply people with the most urgent things. What is very important in such situations is the supply of safe drinking water, so we will be supplying water purification pills.”

South Africa sent a military force to Mozambique to help with the rescue and recovery. International relations spokesman, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, tells VOA South Africa will try to do more.

“We have also called on South African companies to donate for humanitarian assistance and following this morning’s assessment, we’ll make a further announcement for how we’ll assist going forward,” he said Tuesday.

In Zimbabwe, the death toll stood at 98 Tuesday. One local government official says bodies from Zambia have been flowing on the river into neighboring Mozambique.

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Malawi’s government put the death toll in that country at 56 with nearly 600 people suffering from storm-related injuries.

The European Union announced Tuesday it is sending an initial $4 million in aid to the three devastated countries. Britain has also pledged a separate aid package and the U.S. embassy in Zimbabwe said it is “mobilizing to provide support,” without giving any details. (VOA)

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UN: World Showing Lack of Ambition in Reducing Inequality, Countering Climate Change

The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating

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UN document stresses that 75 per cent of children who suffer from stunted growth and physical development live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Pixabay

The world’s governments are showing a lack of ambition in pursuing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in terms of reducing inequality and countering climate change, the United Nations said in a report published Tuesday.

The findings were presented at the opening of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which brings together some 2,000 participants from around the world to evaluate progress toward meeting the 17 SDGs that the world body’s 193 member-states set in 2015, the Efe news reported.

Time is running short to take effective action on climate change, the head of UN Economic and Social Affairs, Liu Zhenmin, said. “The challenges highlighted in this report are global problems that require global solutions. Just as problems are interrelated, the solutions to poverty, inequality, climate change and other global challenges are also interlinked,” he said.

climate change, reducing inequality
The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating. Pixabay

While the report notes some progress, including lower levels of extreme poverty, expanded immunization, improved access to electricity and a 49 per cent reduction in mortality among children 5 and under, the emphasis is on the need for greater urgency.

“It is abundantly clear that a much deeper, faster and more ambitious response is needed to unleash the social and economic transformation needed to achieve our 2030 goals,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

“The natural environment is deteriorating at an alarming rate: sea levels are rising; ocean acidification is accelerating; the last four years have been the warmest on record; one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction; and land degradation continues unchecked,” Guterres said.

climate change, reducing inequality
Climate change it says is worsening the ability of people to get enough to eat. Pixabay

Liu said that climate change remains the greatest obstacle to “our shared prosperity,” as extreme weather affects agriculture and, by extension, efforts to reduce hunger.

ALSO READ: Sanders and Ocasio- Cortez Teaming Up on Plan to Designate Climate Change as Emergency

The UN document stresses that 75 per cent of children who suffer from stunted growth and physical development live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, while people residing in at-risk states are twice as likely to lack basic sanitation and four times more likely to be without reliable access to potable water.

Looking forward, the report said that steps to combat climate change can also help in reducing poverty and inequality. In that regard, Liu said that moving toward renewable, non-polluting sources of energy will in turn begin to reverse deforestation, just as sustainable agriculture can ease both hunger and want, as nearly 80 per cent of people living in extreme poverty are residents of rural areas. (IANS)