Breaking update (March 21) from Simiao Mahumana, National Director of SOS Mozambique:
“The humanitarian situation in Beira remains critical. There continues to be a lack of essential services in the city, nearly a week after Tropical Cyclone Idai moved ashore. The Portuguese government has sent a rescue team and South Africa’s defense forces are also assisting in the humanitarian response. River levels in Beira are increasing because water in upstream dams is being released, raising the risk of new flooding in the coastal city.”
Tropical Cyclone Idai slammed into the city of Beira, Mozambique on March 14, with flash floods and 118 mph winds leaving a wake of destruction. Entire communities have disappeared under water. Much of the drinking water is unsafe, which will soon breed disease. Electricity is out. Thousands of families in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have lost their homes.
More than 200 people have been killed (with some estimates as high as 1,000 and counting), and an estimated 260,000 children are impacted by the storm in Mozambique alone.
SOS Children’s Village Beira—home to 147 children—is particularly devastated by the storm. Please help keep children safe, healthy and fed in the aftermath of this disaster with an emergency gift today.
An additional challenge: Roads and bridges are destroyed, leaving Beira completely isolated. The city is only accessible by airplane or helicopter. Local shops are running out of food and emergency items, forcing us to fly in critical supplies and medicine from 450 miles away.
Our teams throughout the region are assessing urgent needs and how SOS can help. In the aftermath of emergency and every day, children are always the top priority.
SOS Children’s Villages Mozambique reports that all children and staff at program locations in the areas most affected by the storm—Beira, Chimoio and Tete—are unharmed, but staff is working to assess damage to homes and buildings at SOS Children's Village Beira.
Simiao Mahumana, National Director of SOS Mozambique, says precautions were taken ahead of the storm to ensure that SOS programs had reserves of food and water. However, there is widespread damage in the Beira area and the coastal city has largely been cut off from road access.
The removal of downed trees and other debris continues at the Beira village. Food and water supplies are sufficient for now.
Teresa Ngigi, SOS Children’s Villages mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) advisor will help support the children and staff.
Efforts are also beginning to account for the 585 children and adults in our local SOS family strengthening program, many of whom lived in neighborhoods near the Beira village that suffered heavy damage. Many people are unaccounted for but believed to be living in shelters.
The National Office and Global Emergency Response (GER) are drafting a humanitarian appeal and emergency response, based on an assessment that is taking place now. GER is also sending mental health and medical specialists to Beira. They will assist at the Beira village and in the needs assessment for families in SOS programs, as well as the wider needs in Beira. The proposed emergency response would focus on:
- Psychological and health care for children and families: SOS children and families in the area have been severely affected by the situation and are in need of psychological and health care support. Health care facilities in the surrounding areas are severely damaged and access to health services are limited.
- Child protection in emergencies
- Shelter and non-food support: There is no report on the current shelter situation of the population displaced in Beira, with initial estimates showing nearly 90% of the city affected.
- Food and livelihoods: Due to inaccessibility of food in markets and damage to stored food in warehouses, food is one of the main priorities at the moment. Furthermore, lack of transport access hampers food delivery.
- Water and sanitation: Damage to sanitation facilities and prevalence of unsafe water have been reported. Although no information is available, wells and boreholes are likely to be contaminated by floodwater. Risks of malaria, cholera and other waterborne diseases are increasing.
- Emergency response management
Addmore Makunura, Acting National Director of SOS Zimbabwe, says that none of our programs in Harare, Bindura or Bulawayo have been affected. All children and staff are safe.
Mr. Makunura said the northwest region of Zimbabwe was the hardest hit, with heavy rain and wind damage. SOS Zimbabwe is on standby to assist government agencies in responding to the needs of children affected by the storm.
Although Tropical Cyclone Idai had less impact on Malawi than on its neighboring countries, southern Malawi is still recovering from a storm earlier this month that caused heavy rains and flooding, especially in the south. Smart Namagonya, National Director of SOS Malawi, says all SOS children and staff are safe in the areas most affected: Ngabu and Blantyre. However, some families who participate in SOS family strengthening programs in Ngabu have been affected by rains and flooding that triggered landslides and blocked road access to Ngabu.
Mr. Namagonya is working to determine if SOS Children’s Villages can provide support to affected children and families in areas struck by the rain and flooding.
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Committed to emergency care
In times of war or natural disaster, children need specific protection and care. With SOS Children’s Villages’ established global infrastructure, network of partners and trusted recognition as a reliable and effective partner in quality care, we launch emergency response programs for children and families who need urgent assistance. SOS’s emergency response teams have helped children at risk in more than 150 humanitarian situations around the world.
Every emergency is different. But with our decades of experience and our presence in 135 countries, we are able to quickly assess what is needed, and to make sure that affected children are cared for and protected. We bring children who are in danger to safety, and we make sure they get the food, clothing, medical care and emotional support they need. Additionally, we provide emergency assistance to traumatized families so children can safely stay with their parents and siblings.
Please support our Children in Crisis fund to help the children impacted by Tropical Cyclone Idai and children in crisis around the world.