Cyclone Freddy: More than half a million people affected in Malawi

Cyclone Freddie, which killed more than 400 people in southern Africa, affected more than half a million people in Malawi, one of the poorest countries now facing the risk of a humanitarian crisis, the United Nations warned on Friday. .

“Freddie weakened to an area of ​​low pressure and dissipated completely on March 15,” the local United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a situation update.

In six days, the equivalent of six months of rain fell in southern Malawi, the epicenter of the severe weather, causing flash floods and deadly landslides.

According to Ocha, “more than 500,000 people have been affected since March 12.” More than 183,000 people are homeless out of a population of approximately 20 million.

Some 300 emergency shelters have been opened but the destruction is still limiting access for humanitarian teams and making aid difficult, the World Food Program (WFP) said in a statement.

“It’s all gone, the potatoes, the maize,” Lovness Makhla, a mother of four, told AFP. The harvest was to be done in a month. Picking up the remains of her home, pieces of sheet metal and bricks, she admits she doesn’t know “how we’re going to get through the years without a home and without food”.

Cyclone Freddy, with its extraordinary longevity, killed 326 people in Malawi, a landlocked country. According to a latest report on Friday, 86 people were killed in Mozambique and 17 in Madagascar.

Formed in early February off Australia, the cyclone, which made an unprecedented crossing of over 8,000 km from east to west in the Indian Ocean, is on its way to being classified as the longest on record.

It followed a looping path rarely recorded by meteorologists, first hitting Madagascar and Mozambique in late February, then these two countries and Malawi in March.

UNICEF spokeswoman Phungma Fudong told AFP it hit the latter country hardest, where more than 280,000 children are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

“There is a risk that the current cholera epidemic will worsen, with children being most vulnerable to this crisis,” she said.

A state of disaster has been declared in the country, the police and the army are deployed. President Lazar Chakwera appealed for international aid.

“The country will need significant support,” said Paul Turnbull, WFP director in Malawi, pledging mobilization as soon as possible.

South Africa is helping the rescue teams, the United Kingdom should also send additional forces. Neighboring Zambia has sent food and tents, according to a statement by the defense minister.

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