Relief operations pressed into rural Mozambique where an unknown number of people remain without aid more than 10 days after a cyclone ripped across the country, while the World Health Organization warned of a “second disaster” if disease breaks out.
￼An evacuee from Buzi village carries her belongings as she arrives at a displacement center near the airport, after Cyclone Idai, in Beira, Mozambique.
The United Nations said some 1.8 million people there need urgent help after Cyclone Idai, and it made an emergency appeal for $282 million for the next three months.
The death toll remained at least 761 in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and authorities have warned it is “very preliminary.” More bodies will be found as floodwaters drain away.
Emergency responders raced to contain deadly diseases such as cholera, which authorities have guaranteed will break out as more than a quarter-million displaced people shelter in camps with little or no clear water and sanitation. Many wells were contaminated by the floods.
People are living in tent camps, schools, churches, roads and other impromptu places on higher ground. Many have little but their clothes, squatting over cooking fires and picking their way around stretches of increasingly dirty water or simply walking through it, resigned.
The World Health Organization said it is expecting a “spike” in malaria cases in Mozambique. The disease-carrying mosquitoes breed in standing water.
WHO also said 900,000 oral cholera vaccines were expected to arrive later this week. Cholera is caused by eating contaminated food or drinking water and can kill within hours. Cases of diarrhea have been reported.
“We must not let these people suffer a second disaster through a serious disease outbreak or inability to access essential health services. They have suffered enough,”
Dr. Djamila Cabral, the WHO Representative in Mozambique, told reporters in Geneva. She said people in camps were living in “horrific conditions” and that about 55 health centers had been severely damaged.
Aid continued to arrive, including much-needed air support. The World Food Program received $280,000 from the European Union to support the deployment of a U.N. Humanitarian Air Service helicopter that will deliver assistance to the two worst-hit districts in Zimbabwe, Chimanimani and Chipinge.
The United States said it had donated nearly $3.4 million in emergency food assistance to the World Food Program, whose director was touring Beira on Tuesday.
A field hospital was being set up in Beira and another is arriving later this week, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. A sanitation system to serve some 22,000 people has arrived and a water purification unit to serve some 25,000 people is expected to arrive on Wednesday, the organization said.
Bit by bit, the scale of the destruction became clearer. The cyclone reportedly destroyed all houses in the village of Metuchira, home to nearly 38,000 people, the U.N. humanitarian agency said.
Amid the relief efforts, grieving people in Mozambique struggled to bury the dead.
“Efforts are underway to improve management of dead bodies, as mortuary facilities were either destroyed and/or lack enough facilities and capacity,” the U.N. humanitarian agency said.
Ten rebels killed in offensive in east DR Congo — Army
The Congolese army forces on Sunday killed 10 rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the troubled east of the country, a spokesman said.
The offensive kicked off last Thursday in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, with army and police officers assigned to replace civilian authorities under a 30-day “state of siege”.
In a clash in Halungupa, in the Rwenzori area, “our troops got the better of the ADF enemy. We in fact saw 10 dead bodies of ADF elements,” Antony Mualushayi, an army spokesman in the North Kivu city of Beni, told AFP.
The death toll is provisional, he added.
“We are determined to finish with the ADF once and for all,” he said. “This siege should give the people of the Beni region the chance to live in a place where peace rules.”
A spokesman for a monitor called the Kivu Security Tracker (KST) said however that it had counted “only five bodies so far.”
Meanwhile, a delegation of Ugandan officers arrived in Beni on Sunday, according to an AFP reporter, while the army and government authorities declined to comment on the visit.
The ADF, a group of Ugandan Islamist fighters, has been based in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since 1995.
Branded a “terrorist” organization affiliated with the Islamic State group by the United States, the ADF has been accused of murdering more than 1,000 civilians since November 2019 in Beni alone.
It is by far the most dangerous of scores of armed groups that operate in the east of DR Congo.
Mineral-rich North and South-Kivu which lie along the DRC’s eastern borders with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, descended into violence during the country’s two wars between 1996 and 2003, and have never regained stability.
Ituri, further to the north, has also been rocked by violence since late 2017 after 15 years of relative calm.
Under the DRC’s constitution, the president can declare a state of either siege or emergency “if severe circumstances immediately threaten the independence or integrity of the national territory, or if they interrupt the regular functioning of institutions”.
South Sudan president dissolves parliament in line with peace deal
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has dissolved parliament, a long-awaited step to pave the way for the appointment of lawmakers from formerly warring parties in the country.
The move was in line with a peace deal signed to end a civil war that began in 2013.
The president dissolved parliament on Saturday and the new body will be formed in “a matter of time, not too long”, his spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Reuters.
According to the deal that ended the civil war, parliament must be expanded from 400 members to 550 and must include members from all parties to the peace accord.
South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war. Violence erupted in late 2013 after Kiir, from the Dinka ethnic group, sacked vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer.
The two men have signed many deals to end a war estimated to have killed more than 400,000 people. They repeatedly pushed back deadlines to form a government of national unity, but in 2020 finally did so.
Despite the peace deal, violence is still raging in parts of the country, according to United Nations reports.
Chad rebels ‘fleeing’, says defence minister
Rebels who launched an offensive in northern Chad, sparking clashes that claimed the life of veteran president Idriss Deby Itno, are in flight, the country’s new defence minister said on Thursday.
“The security forces are thoroughly sweeping the operational area. Most of the prisoners are in the hands of the gendarmerie (police) and are being well-treated. The enemy is fleeing,” Defence Minister Brahim Daoud Yaya told a news conference.
“We are never going to dialogue with terrorists.”
He was speaking after the first meeting of a transitional government appointed by a 14-member military junta, the Transitional Military Council (TMC), that took office after Deby’s death on April 19.
Opposition supporters, meanwhile, called for fresh anti-junta protests on Saturday.
Demonstrations on April 29 that were violently repressed by the authorities claimed six lives, according to the authorities, and nine according to a local grass-roots organisation, while more than 600 people were arrested.
The Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), a large armed group with a rear base in Libya, mounted an offensive on April 11 as the country was to hold presidential elections.
Deby, a former general who had been in power for 30 years, led the fighting against the insurgents.
According to the authorities, he died from combat injuries in the Kanem desert region, about 300 kilometres (200 miles) north of the capital N’Djamena, close to the border with Niger.
“Libya is the terrorists’ stronghold,” the minister said.
He added, however: “I cannot accuse Libya of supporting the terrorists, as there is no state in Libya.”
Deby’s death occurred on the same day that he was declared victor in the presidential results and that the army claimed to have killed 300 FACT rebels, according to official announcements.
Another 246 rebels have been captured and handed over to the judicial authorities, according to the authorities.
Fighting has been continuing in the area of Nokou, in the administrative region of North Kanem.
Last week, a Chadian military helicopter crashed there after what the army said was a breakdown, while FACT said it had downed the aircraft.
A junta took power immediately after Deby’s shock death, headed by his 37-year-old son Mahamat, a four-star general, and parliament was suspended.
The military rulers have vowed to hold “free and democratic” elections following an 18-month transition period.
On Sunday, the junta unveiled a 40-member transitional government, the key posts of which have gone to members of the former president’s MPS party.
According to a report on Thursday’s first ministerial meeting, a copy of which was seen by AFP, Deby “instructed the government to urgently strengthen communal living, which has been seriously tested, to consolidate peace, ensure security and guarantee security.”
He also called for the holding of an “inclusive national dialogue.”
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