Aid Rushed to Mozambique Cyclone Survivors

The U.N. refugee agency and partners are working with Mozambique’s government to aid thousands of families devastated by Cyclone Gombe, which struck the island nation earlier this month.

Cyclone Gombe swept across central and northern Mozambique on March 11, destroying homes, flooding farmland, and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee in search of safety.

Initial relief efforts were delayed because of storm damage to many key roads. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says about 60 people were killed, more than 80 injured and some 488,000 were affected by Gombe.

It was the strongest storm to strike Mozambique since Cyclones Idai and Kenneth wreaked havoc on the island nation in 2019.

U.N. refugee agency spokesman Boris Cheshirkov said more than 380,000 people were affected in Nampula province alone. He said the victims, who include tens of thousands of displaced people, need urgent humanitarian assistance.

“While the intensity and impact of Cyclone Gombe appears to be less severe than Idai and Kenneth, this was a category 4 storm which brought fierce winds of up to 190 kilometers per hour, heavy rain, and thunderstorms,” Cheshirkov said. “It damaged critical infrastructure. It cut power and communications in Nampula City, as well as the nearby Maratane refugee settlement.”

He said sites in Cabo Delgado province hosting tens of thousands of people displaced by violent armed attacks also have been badly affected. He says the UNHCR is distributing essential items from its stockpiles to help them. Those goods will assist 62,000 refugees, internally displaced people, and host communities.

“Every region in the world is experiencing climate hazards…Those with the least means to adapt are hit the hardest, including refugees, internally displaced and stateless people,” Cheshirkov said. “Women, children, older people, people with disabilities, and indigenous peoples are disproportionately affected.”

The United Nations says the full impact and magnitude of damage done by Cyclone Gombe is not yet known and is likely to be more serious than initial findings indicate.

Cheshirkov said the UNHCR and its partners are assessing the protection and humanitarian needs of displaced cyclone survivors. Besides basic needs for shelter, food and healthcare, he expects many will require protection from sexual exploitation and abuse as well as counseling to help them deal with mental trauma.

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