Relief Organizations Struggle to Deliver Aid to Cyclone-Battered Mozambique

At least 38 people are dead and thousands more are feared trapped after Tropical Cyclone Kenneth battered the African country of Mozambique. The country, and neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi, are still dealing with massive flooding brought on by Tropical Cyclone Idai in March, which killed over 900 people.

The Mozambican government estimates that 160,000 people have been affected by Cyclone Kenneth, and urged residents of the city of Pemba to flee to higher ground as rain continues to affect the area. More than 22 inches of rain have fallen in the city since the cyclone hit on April 25, ABC News reported.

The United Nations said aid workers faced “an incredibly difficult situation” in reaching the thousands of survivors in northern Mozambique on Tuesday. The extreme rain grounded aid operations for a third day in a row, Al Jazeera reported. Deborah Nguyen, a spokeswoman for the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP), said the agency’s flight to the island of Ibo was grounded until the weather improved. “We are really concerned about the situation for the people on Ibo island,” Nguyen said. People on the island have been left with no homes and limited access to food.

Nguyen told Sky News that not being able to deliver supplies was “very frustrating," as the agency has everything ready to go. “We know that people need this food and we cannot bring it, so it is very frustrating for us,” she said. Meanwhile, international charity Save the Children announced April 29 that it is running out of funds to help the survivors of both cyclones in Mozambique, the organization said in a statement.

“Both cyclones have shattered families and destroyed livelihoods,” Nicholas Finney, Save the Children’s response team leader for both cyclones, said in a statement. “The loss of life is devastating. Those who were already living on the brink of poverty have now been left with nothing. With donations dwindling, we’re facing a critical situation.”

Finney urged donors to “dig deep” to save lives in the storm-battered country. A break in the rain on Tuesday morning allowed some aid flights to take supplies to the mainland district of Quissanga — where more than 35,000 structures were partly or fully destroyed, according to the Associated Press — and the island of Matemo. WFP said that the largely rural area will feel the storm’s effects for months. An estimated 76,600 acres of crops were destroyed during the region’s harvest season.

“These people lost everything,” Gemma Connell, head of office for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for southern and eastern Africa, told Al Jazeera. “It is critical that we get them the food that they need to survive.”

Cyclone Kenneth, which landed six weeks after Cyclone Idai, is the strongest storm to hit the area since records began. The tropical storm also killed at least four people in the island nation of Comoros before devastating Mozambique. Connell told ABC News that Mozambique is facing “a very complex humanitarian situation,” following the two deadly storms. Authorities are also prepping for a possible outbreak of cholera.

Heavy rains have led to extreme flooding and devastating landslides. On Sunday, a landslide at a landfill in Pemba killed five people of the same family. Pemba Mayor Florete Matarua told local TV channel STV that several other houses were also buried, according to Al Jazeera.


About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.