The United Nations (UN) and its partners are ramping up support to Malawi in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which killed 190 people this week and injured dozens more.
This prompted Malawi’s government to declare a ‘national state of disaster’, with the current death toll expected to rise.
The storm – which has been raging since 6 February – made landfall for a second time on the African continent over the weekend, barreling into Malawi on Monday. Strong winds and torrential rains continue to cause extensive damage and loss of life in 10 districts.
“We are mobilizing additional teams, but difficult weather conditions have hampered rescue efforts,” said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, speaking in New York on Wednesday.
Dujarric added that at least 178 people have been rescued in the past two days, including with the support of boats from the World Food Programme (WFP).
The storm has created “an unprecedented crisis”, the UN Resident Coordinator in the country, Rebecca Adda-Dontoh said on Tuesday.
“The United Nations commends the Government of Malawi for its leadership of preparedness and response measures and calls upon partners to step up efforts to assist people in the districts most affected by the cyclone,” she said in a statement.
The UN stated that it has been rapidly mobilizing support to address immediate needs, pending a multi-sectoral assessment.
“This has included technical and financial assistance to establish an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) that has been critical in strengthening humanitarian coordination among the authorities, aid organizations and development partners.
“Several UN agencies have deployed staff to the affected areas to support coordination of response and assessment efforts in the areas of information management and logistics,” the statement read.
Support and solidarity
The critical support being provided includes transportation for search and rescue operations, and to ferry humanitarian workers, logistical equipment and medical supplies to communities that have been cut off by flooding and landslides.
Supplies and equipment are being delivered to improve water and sanitation infrastructure to address immediate health needs, including preventing the further spread of cholera.
UN development agencies are also distributing food, shelter materials, tents, dignity kits and other items to displaced persons.
Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which initially formed off northern Australia, has cut a deadly and destructive path across southern Africa, hitting Madagascar and Mozambique on two separate occasions.
The World Meteorological Office (WMO) recently warned that it is on track to become the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record.