Cyclone Freddy claimed more than 463 lives in southern Africa, including 360 in Malawi, where more than half a million people were affected by the disaster. The country, among the poorest in the world, now faces the risk of a humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, which gave the alert on Friday March 17. In six days, the equivalent of six months of rain fell on the south of the country, causing floods and landslides.
"We expect the damage and death toll to worsen as new areas become accessible," said President Lazarus Chakwera, who has been visiting areas hit by the "monstrosity for three days." of Freddie".
Freddy "reduced to an area of low pressure and completely dissipated on March 15," the local office of the UN's Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a status update. “More than 500,000 people have been affected since March 12,” according to the office, and more than 183,000 people – out of a population of nearly 20 million – are homeless.
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.
280,000 children urgently need humanitarian aid
Cyclone Freddy, with exceptional longevity, caused 326 deaths in Malawi. It also killed 86 people in Mozambique, according to a latest report on Friday, and seventeen in Madagascar. Formed in early February off Australia, the cyclone, which made an unprecedented crossing of more than 8,000 kilometers from east to west in the Indian Ocean, is on the way to being classified as the longest ever recorded.
In Malawi, more than 280,000 children are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, warned UNICEF spokesperson Fungma Fudong. "There is a risk that the current cholera epidemic will worsen, with children being the most vulnerable to this crisis," she added.
A state of disaster has been declared in the country, the police and the army are deployed. President Lazarus Chakwera appealed for international help. "The country will need significant support," said WFP Malawi Director Paul Turnbull, who promised mobilization as quickly as possible.
South Africa lends a hand to the rescue teams, the United Kingdom must also send reinforcements. Neighboring Zambia has sent food and tents, according to a statement from the defense minister.