UNICEF Ireland expresses deep concern for children, as fears increase about scale of Cyclone Idai impact

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UNICEF Ireland expresses deep concern for children, as fears increase about scale of Cyclone Idai impact

Over 700,000 children in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in Mozambique and Malawi, amid fears scale of disaster could grow

UNICEF spokespeople in the region and in Ireland are available for interview

20 March 2019, DUBLIN: UNICEF Ireland is deeply concerned for the safety and security of potentially millions of children affected by Cyclone Idai. As the full scale of the devastation in South East Africa becomes clearer, UNICEF is rapidly deploying humanitarian aid in the region to meet the immediate needs of children and families.

An estimated 720,000 children have been affected by severe flooding in Mozambique and Malawi alone, with numbers likely to rise.

As further assessments are carried out in remote and inaccessible areas, UNICEF Ireland Executive Director said UNICEF is deeply concerned about the potential scale of the disaster. “With each passing hour, we’re receiving more information from the region and there are fears that possibly millions of children could be affected by the widespread flooding. Children are always the most vulnerable and at risk. We know what to do in an emergency and we are responding. Children and their families need safe drinking water, health supplies and emergency shelter.”

Five days after the powerful tropical cyclone made landfall in Mozambique, 260,000 children in the country have been affected by the storm’s devastating impact. Thousands of families have been forced out of their flooded homes, and now lack basic supplies of food and water as well as access to sanitation facilities. In Malawi, 460,000 children have been affected by heavy rains and floods in southern part of the country.

In Mozambique, the city of Beira, has been one of the hardest hit areas. The city is currently inaccessible by road but aerial assessments have shown extensive damage to dwellings throughout the city. Families and children have been forced to take refuge on rooftops and other elevated areas.

“Our full focus is on protecting the hundreds of thousands of children hit hardest by this cyclone and its ferocious flooding. While families and communities do everything in their power to cope with the crisis, the sheer scale requires outside support. As such, UNICEF is delivering life-saving food, clean water, and medicines. We know the coming hours and days are critical, and UNICEF will continue to work 24/7 to support those most in need,” said Peter Power.

While the full extent of the cyclone’s impact is not yet clear, it is likely to include damage to schools and health facilities, damage to water and sanitation infrastructure, impeding access to safe water for affected communities, thereby bringing a heightened risk of water-borne diseases, destruction of people’s homes, and increased protection risks, particularly for women and children.

UNICEF is working with partners to support the Governments of the affected countries to provide life-saving interventions to meet the needs of children and women impacted by the cyclone and floods. The response will include Health, with a focus on cholera response and prevention; Education, to minimize service disruption and enhancing safe access to schools; Protection, catering particularly to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs); WASH, to ensure access to clean and safe water, increased use of sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion and; Nutrition, focusing on preventing under-five mortality attributable to malnutrition.

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Contacts

Danny Smits, UNICEF Ireland, +353871308070, danny@unicef.ie