UN Secy Gen: Cyclone Idai ‘an alarm bell about climate change dangers’

  • April 3, 2019

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday that events such as cyclone Idai are becoming “more frequent, more severe and more widespread, and this will only get worse if we do not act now”. “In the face of turbo-charged storms, we need revved up climate action”, he added, addressing correspondents at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The Secretary-General has convened a Climate Action Summit this September, to try and mobilize countries around the urgent need to reduce global warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The death toll across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, stands at around 700, but figures are expected to rise, with hundreds still missing. An estimated three million have been affected, nearly two-thirds of them in Mozambique, where key port city Beira was “practically razed to the ground” while the farmland interior has been inundated, said Mr. Guterres.

At least a million children need “urgent assistance”, and “we fear that whole villages have been washed away places we have yet to reach”, the UN chief added, with reports that $1 billion-worth of infrastructure has been destroyed. He said citizens of the three southern African nations would need “strong, sustained support”.

On Monday, the UN launched a launched a $281.7 million revised flash appeal for Mozambique, designating the disaster a “scale-up emergency”, which is the most severe: “I call on the international community to fund these appeals quickly and fully so that aid agencies can urgently ramp up their responses”, said Mr. Guterres.

Response from UN and partners ramps up amid devastation

Conditions for survivors of Cyclone Idai remain dire, with devastation enormous and “an extremely high risk of diarrhoeal diseases like cholera”, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, briefing reporters in Geneva.

Dr Djamila Cabral, WHO Representative in Mozambique, said that in Beira, Mozambique, more than 100,000 people have lost their homes and all of their possessions.

In addition, “families, pregnant women (and) babies are living in temporary camps in horrific conditions…without secure food supplies, or safe drinking water and sanitation”.

At least 1.8 million people need humanitarian assistance in Mozambique alone. Cases of acute watery diarrhoea similar to cholera, have already been reported among victims.

Source: United Nations

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