Buhari reacts as cyclone hits Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe


President Muhammadu Buhari has sent condolences to families who have lost loved ones, homes and means of livelihood in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi as Tropical Cyclone Idai takes a toll on Southern Africa.

His spokesman, in a statement on Tuesday, said the President deeply shares in the pain and struggle of the governments and people in the region who have been working hard to ensure safety of citizens and minimize the devastating effect of the cyclone.

“President Buhari assures the governments and people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi of the prayers and support of Nigeria as they pass through the trying period, while commending all the humanitarian organisations for their interventions”, it said.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, and other UN agencies have launched an appeal for immediate international funding and logistical support to save hundreds of thousands who remain isolated and with no access to food or clean water in the countries.

In Mozambique, the government’s estimates put the number of those affected by the cyclone at 600,000 in the provinces of Sofala, Manica, Zamb├ęzia, Inhambane and Tete.

Acoording to Al-Jazeera, A WFP staff member, who flew over the area inundated since the weekend when two swollen rivers burst their banks, spoke of “inland oceans extending for miles and miles in all directions”.

The situation is particularly dire in the port city of Beira, where thousands are still on rooftops and in trees waiting to be rescued, as the flood reached a height of six metres, UN officials said.

“A lot is needed, the world doesn’t realise the scale of the problem especially in Mozambique, where some 1.7 million people were on the path of the cyclone,” said Herve Verhoosel, WFP spokesperson.

Some 920,000 people were affected in Malawi with some 82,000 being displaced, but UN officials said the impact was limited and people were returning to their homes on Tuesday, as further assessments were under way.

In Zimbabwe, some 15,000 people have been displaced, with Chimanimani and Chipinge being the hardest-hit districts.

“People visible from the air may be the lucky ones, and the top priority now is to rescue as many as possible and ferry them to safety,” said Lola Castro, WFP Regional Director for Southern Africa.