“Like a war zone” says Oxfam; destruction and suffering still not fully mapped, while aid agencies are already running out of resources
One month after devastating Cyclone Idai, Oxfam and its local partner organizations in Mozambique are still finding thousands of isolated people cut off from any aid or rescue.
Only a few days ago, Oxfam and partner organizations embarked on a 24-hour journey via car, motorbike and canoe into isolated communities in Zambézia, the province North of Beira, Mozambique. The team found nearly 2,000 people in Gentivo in desperate need, with an estimated 4,000 more remaining without access.
“One month in and we are still realizing the full shocking extent of this disaster. Some places look like a war zone. We are still finding survivors in desperate need,” said Dorothy Sang, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Advocacy Manager.
Up to that point, the community of Gentivo had had no contact with outside help and were surviving off dates, coconuts and a few small fish they could catch. Oxfam and other international agencies are now planning an air drop of life saving supplies into Gentivo. The work has been part of the COSACA consortium with Save the Children and CARE, and, in partnership with the local organization, CECOHAS.
“The tragedy is that Gentivo is not an anomaly,” said Sang. “We know there are many more people still out there cut off from help. The further we spread into hard-to-reach areas, the more people in need we are going to find. These are areas that have not necessarily been hit hardest by the disaster, but the people are already living in chronic poverty and now face huge challenges to survive. They risk becoming utterly forgotten.”
Oxfam and its local partners in Mozambique have so far reached over 50,000 people with clean water, emergency supplies and public health activities to help stop the spread of cholera. There have been more than 4000 recorded cases of cholera to date. But with an estimated 1.85 million people affected, many of whom are still stranded and isolated, and a lack of international funding, Oxfam is concerned that thousands may not receive the emergency help they need.
“People have given money so generously in many countries to enable Oxfam and other agencies to act quickly to help”, said Sang. “Humanitarian resources are already running out. Aid agencies need to be adequately resourced to respond to what is becoming an overwhelming crisis. The international funding appeal is for $282 million, but governments have only pledged $60 million so far. If more is not made available soon, thousands of people may be forgotten.”
Marcos Paulo do Amaral from CECOHAS, which has worked with Oxfam since 2013, said: “In Zambézia region we still have many communities without access to humanitarian aid, completely isolated and left behind. They need virtually everything – food, water, shelter, sanitation and hygiene systems, and health care.”
Sang said: “The scandal and the tragedy – as ever – is that poor communities are suffering most. The international community needs to stand in solidarity with those affected and get funding to organizations on the ground right now, including local organizations who are well positioned to reach people we know are feeling utterly abandoned. This humanitarian response must not be allowed to unravel for lack of support.”