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Oxfam International: 2 Million Cyclone Victims Still Need Aid

Akanimo Sampson

Akanimo Sampson

More than a month after Cyclone Idai devastated the lives of around two million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, survivors are busy recalling what happened when the cyclone hit the region, ravaging everything in its path, the terror they felt when floods swept away everything, homes and lives.

Oxfam International, a global civic confederation concerned with helping create lasting solutions to the injustice of poverty, and empowering people to create a future that is secure, just, and free from poverty said when the water started entering their houses, most of them were sleeping at home.

On March 14 and 15, Cyclone Idai tore through Southern Africa, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. Winds of nearly 175 km per hour, widespread flooding and landslides destroyed roads and bridges, farmlands and crops, and damaged houses, some beyond repair.

In the worst-affected areas of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, the group said they met survivors who have lost everything, their lives devastated by the cyclone, ‘’they are in urgent need of life-saving humanitarian assistance’’, Oxfam added.

Continuing, the group said as they focused on ensuring the safety of their children there was no time to rescue some of their belongings. Many families were separated in the chaos, their homes and possessions carried away with the flood waters.

When the cyclone struck, Madelema, a survivor, ran to safety on higher ground. When she thought the cyclone had passed she went back to see what she could save from her house. Then the flooding submerged the area, trapping them. They spent three days without any food until they were rescued by neighbors with a boat, and eventually made it to Guara Guara, where many survivors from Buzi district were seeking shelter and aid.

Joshua and his wife were sleeping with their two-year-old baby in one room, their three other children in another room, when the landslide tore through the town on the night of March 15. They ran out of the house with the baby but didn’t manage to save their three other children. Two days later, they found two of their children, and have been looking for their third child ever since.

Joshua and some relatives are now staying in a nearby primary school, whilst his wife and baby have gone to stay with a relative in a nearby town. “We have no food, we are hungry,” he says. Chimanimani has been cut off with bridges and roads washed away, and the only relief has come by helicopters, as engineers open other routes to the devastated town.

When the water started entering the house, I took my daughter who was still asleep and went to a higher ground to escape the floods. When I went back to the house to begin rescuing some of my property, the house crumbled and fell. Luckily, I escaped.

Another survivor, Dorothy is now trying to rebuild her house, but she lacks much of the materials she needs. She is also worried about the risk from water-borne diseases. She had to use her only mosquito net to tear up into pieces to act as string, to bind together the framework of her house. The food she was donated is almost finished. “From now onwards we don’t know what to do.” she says.

Afonso’s house was completely destroyed in the cyclone. When the storm began, he ran to his mother’s house. “Cars were flying across the road. I thought the wind could have pulled everything off the house. Because I put the sand bags on the roof, the roof stayed on. We were scared. We thought we would die that day. Everything was coming down. We were all calling Jesus’ name.”

We have nothing now. No jobs. My mother is on her own. I go back and check on her. She has nothing to eat there. So I have to go between.

Afonso is now living with his wife and 6-year-old daughter in the transit centre in Guara Guara, in Mozambique, one of the areas that has been difficult to reach post Cyclone Idai as the road was impassable. He lost everything and still doesn’t know where all his family are.

Naomi, who was heavily pregnant with Maliko, fled her home when flooding caused by Cyclone Idai swept through her village. She made it to a nearby hospital with her mother-in-law, where she gave birth to Maliko, and then came to this camp.

I felt like it was a huge misfortune that my first baby was born under such circumstances.

“I didn’t have anything for the baby because everything was washed away.” Naomi says. “Well-wishers” in the local community have donated some things, including a bucket and some clothes with which to swaddle her son, but she needs clothes for Maliko, and nappies, and is worried he could get ill from sleeping out in the open.

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