20 March 2019

Press release - British Red Cross launches appeal in response to severe humanitarian emergency caused by Cyclone Idai

British Red Cross launches appeal in response to severe humanitarian emergency caused by Cyclone Idai

  • Deadliest cyclone to hit Mozambique has caused largest humanitarian crisis the country has ever encountered, according to government officials
  • Weather system caused by Cyclone Idai has already affected more than 1 million people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe 
  • Many areas still inaccessible, and flood survivors have sought refuge in trees and on the roofs of buildings
  • Thousands have lost their homes and are seeking shelter in accommodation centres and makeshift shelters
  • Humanitarian organisations working with space agencies to get overview of immense flood areas inaccessible by road

British Red Cross has launched an emergency fundraising appeal in response to the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai across areas of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. 

Heavy rain is predicted over the next few days, as floods have already cut off towns and villages, washed away roads and damaged thousands of homes. Many areas are still in-accessible, and flood survivors have sought refuge in trees and on the roofs of buildings. In Mozambique, large areas close to Buzi and Pungwe rivers have been severely flooded, by up to several metres.

Ben Webster, Head of Emergencies at the British Red Cross said:

"Cyclone Idai has wreaked devastation across a vast area. People living in the path of the storm have seen family members lost in the floods, they’ve seen their homes and livelihoods washed away. This is a severe humanitarian emergency. Right now the primary focus is to save lives, but the after-effects of this crisis will be felt for some time to come. 

“Local Red Cross volunteers were preparing in advance of the cyclone right up until the last moment, getting aid in place and warning communities. These volunteers are now involved in search and rescue and aid distribution. The local branch in Beira, the worst hit area, has been destroyed but the volunteers are still responding. Many areas are still inaccessible but as we receive more information, it’s clear this disaster will require a huge international response.”

Local Red Cross volunteers are involved in search and rescue operations, aid distribution and facilities for temporary camps. British Red Cross have provided 2,000 tarpaulins, 3,000 mosquito nets and 3,000 blankets from their regional warehouse in Harare to the Zimbabwe Red Cross, and released some emergency funds via their existing Community Resilience Programme in Zimbabwe.

The total population of the flood affected areas is still being verified and rescue efforts are ongoing. Authorities in Mozambique fear the death toll could exceed 1,000. Damage caused by the cyclone is making it hard to assess the level of devastation and some affected areas are still inaccessible. In some places, roads and bridges have been damaged or washed away. 

In Mozambique, the city of Beira has suffered 90 per cent damage or destruction, and the last access road was cut off after a dam burst. Satellite imaging is urgently needed to get an overview of the true extent of the flooding. The humanitarian community is working together with the European Space Agency and the North American Space Agency to get this information, and to secure crucial air resources for assessments.

To donate to the British Red Cross Cyclone Idai appeal, go to www.redcross.org.uk/idai
 
By post: Cyclone Idai Appeal, British Red Cross, Cyclone Idai Appeal, 44 Moorfields, London, EC2Y 9AL
 
By phone: 0300 023 0811


ENDS


Notes to editors
The Cyclone Idai Appeal will cover countries currently affected by the recent weather system, and those potentially affected in the future. In the unlikely event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters anywhere in the world. For more information visit www.redcross.org.uk

British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

Disaster Relief Alliance
Thanks to investment from the Disaster Relief Alliance, we are able to respond immediately to the emergency. The Disaster Relief Alliance is an initiative from the British Red Cross, which brings together five companies, Tesco, Aviva, Delta Air Lines, John Lewis Partnership and Kingfisher, who are united in their commitment to providing support to mitigate and respond to crises. Together we are investing in ground-breaking global emergency response strategies to ensure that everyone receives the help they need in a crisis; today, tomorrow and in the future.

British Red Cross launch Cyclone Idai appeal