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United Nations, March 18 – Malawi authorities assessing the rising devastation of cyclone Freddy report more than 500,000 people affected, including at least 326 people killed, UN Humanitarians said.
The government reports 442 people rescued during search and rescue operations on Thursday alone, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency. More than 180,000 people are homeless.
The government-led relief efforts expand as flood waters recede, and the focus is on reaching displaced people, the office said.
“However, some areas remain cut off due to the extremely challenging conditions on the ground,” OCHA said. “Aid workers are mobilising air transport and boats to transport supplies and search and rescue efforts in locations that can’t be accessed by road.”
The office said that humanitarian partners are concerned about the risk of cholera spreading in flood-affected areas, especially in crowded displacement sites.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners are working to clean latrines in schools serving as shelters in Blantyre and will also install water storage bladders to provide safe drinking water.
The OCHA said that in Chikwawa, one of the districts with the highest number of displaced people, the World Food Programme and its partners distributed super cereal, a blend of corn and soy, to all displacement sites. Similar efforts are underway in other districts.
In neighboring Mozambique, the number of people affected by Freddy’s second landfall also continues to rise, reaching 340,000, UN humanitarians said. With the cumulative impact of floods and two landfalls of Freddy, more than 510,000 people were affected across Mozambique.
Cholera is also spreading in Mozambique. But, there are not enough water disinfection supplies to support containment activities to control the outbreak, OCHA said.
The UN team has a presence in each of the cyclone-affected provinces in Mozambique, the office said. “We are working closely with the authorities to provide aid to over 49,000 people displaced and to access areas isolated by floods.”
The office said that humanitarian partners are finalising a flash appeal – as an addition to this year’s overall appeal – to address the most urgent humanitarian needs resulting from the convergence of Freddy, floods and cholera.
On Thursday, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund released $10-million to help address some relief gaps. Still, OCHA said more funds are urgently needed.