30 January 2015

Malawi: Heavy rains separate hundreds of children from their homes and families

SOS Malawi’s family strengthening program team pushes for interventions to reunify families.

January 30, 2015

Mercy, an SOS FSP beneficiary with her three children, lost parts of her
home to the torrential rains in Malawi.


Families separated and in need of support

Families in SOS Children's Villages - Malawi’s family strengthening program (FSP) have been torn apart. Children have been separated from their parents. As relief agencies assess the damage and humanitarian organizations provide food and medical aid, proper and safe shelter remains challenging.
Phillip Tegha, SOS Malawi’s national FSP coordinator, says at present there are 876 boys and 804 girls in communities around Blantyre and Ngabu who are separated from their families.
“What this means is that boys and girls are not currently living under the same roof as their parents. After their own houses collapsed due to the floods they were placed with neighbors who still had a roof over their head. Even husbands and wives have been separated in this way, finding shelter wherever there is still a space available,” said Tegha.
The country is still reeling after devastating torrential rain and hailstorms left more than 200,000 displaced in the southern region of the African country. President Peter Mutharika declared 15 of the country’s 28 districts disaster areas more than a week ago.
On Monday, January 27, he appealed to the international community to help Malawians, reported Voice of America (VoA). “I appeal for humanitarian assistance from the international donor community, the relevant United Nations agencies, the non-governmental organizations, the local private sector as well as all fellow citizens of goodwill, so that, together, we can contribute in alleviating suffering on the part of people affected by the floods," said Mutharika at a news conference in the capital, Lilongwe.
SOS Malawi has heeded the call and following assessments on the ground in Blantyre and Ngabu, the national team has begun directing efforts towards reuniting families.
“It is difficult to operate as a family unit when family members are scattered. We are therefore pushing for interventions to reunify families, which means proper shelter, food and access to medical care,” said Tegha.

Children and families at great risk

The separation of families poses a new set of dangers for children. Emotional, physical and sexual abuse of their children remains a constant fear for parents.
Media outlets report that the majority of children under the age of five in these affected areas are being treated for diarrhea, and that the stagnant water in these areas are attracting mosquitos, increasing malaria risk for a population now mostly without shelter or mosquito nets.

For media inqurieries, please contact Stephanie Rendon at 202.470.5182 or srendon@sos-usa.org

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