“Truly shocking” – scale of the emergency in Mozambique becoming clearer, with one million children still at risk 

31st March 2019



“Truly shocking” – scale of the emergency in Mozambique becoming clearer, with one million children still at risk 

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power is visiting affected areas near Beira this weekend, as children remain extremely vulnerable to disease, violence and abuse  

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power is in Mozambique and is available for interview  

Photos and Broll available at: https://uni.cf/2WtSxed 

BEIRA/DUBLIN, 31 March 2019 –  The stark reality facing one million children in Mozambique has been described as “truly shocking” and “terrifying” by UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power, amid a visit to the worst affected areas in the country this weekend.  As concerns grow about the risks of disease, violence and abuse faced by children in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, UNICEF is launching a massive humanitarian response for children and families. 

Visiting affected areas near the port city of Beira in Mozambique on Saturday, March 30th, and witnessing the dangers being faced by children first-hand, UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power said the reality of the crisis is becoming starker as each day passes. “When you see the conditions faced by children it’s truly shocking. I am seeing extreme and utterly devastating levels of damage. Today, I’ve visited affected areas near Beira. This is the worst hit region in Mozambique. There are reports here that 80% of the city has been essentially destroyed. What this means for children and families is terrifying. And when you witness the devastation closeup, it’s so saddening. They urgently need our help.”  

Cyclone Idai is the worst natural disaster to hit southern Africa in nearly two decades and two weeks after the cyclone struck, there are fears the situation on the ground will continue to worsen. With very little time left to prevent the spread of opportunistic diseases. “Throughout the region you can still see massive pools of stagnant water. These areas are becoming a haven for water-borne diseases. Tragically, we’ve already started seeing the first cases of cholera in children this week. UNICEF teams helped to re-establish Beira’s water supply this week, which was a relief. But when you see the water still just sitting there, and hear the reports of decomposing bodies, you fear that the scale of this disaster could get even worse. Unless we take action very soon. Outbreaks of diarrhoea, malaria and cholera can spread incredibly rapidly in these conditions, and we know children are always the most vulnerable,” Power said.  

Alongside the dangers posed by disease, UNICEF is extremely concerned by the potential risks of violence and abuse faced by children in overcrowded shelters. “Over 135,000 people have lost their homes across the country. Many of these people are now taking shelter in temporary centres. We know that many children have become orphaned or separated from their families. They are totally alone and their safety and security is one of biggest priorities now. Our children protection teams are working around the clock to find and support these children.”   

Right now, 1.85 million people are in dire need of assistance, including 1 million children. Beira is Mozambique’s second largest port and has seen critical infrastructure damage and heavy flooding in urban areas. Access and logistical constraints are a major challenge. Over 3,200 classrooms are also damaged and 54 health facilities have been affected by the devastating cyclone. 

Cholera has been confirmed in urban areas and transit centers and a massive vaccination campaign targeting nearly one million people is planned. Damage to crops has devastated the country’s agricultural production with nearly 50 percent of Mozambique’s production destroyed for the year.    

UNICEF is ramping up its response for affected children and families in Mozambique, as well as in the other affected countries of Zimbabwe and MalawiAdditional teams continue to be deployed to expand delivery of critical healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene, and education services.  

In each of the areas of humanitarian response, the numbers UNICEF plans to support in Mozambique over the coming months demonstrate the sheer scale of the disaster – with each programme area reaching into the hundreds of thousands.   

Programme area   UNICEF emergency response targets 


Water, Sanitation & Hygiene  
  • 965,000 people provided with access to safe water  
  • 267,500 people benefiting from sanitation, hygiene promotion activities, including point-of-use water treatment safe practices 
  • 500,000 children aged 6 months to 15 years vaccinated 
  • 229,500 children under-five receiving a consultation 
  • 328,000 children under 5 screened for acute malnutrition 
  • 100,000 pregnant and lactating women reached  
  • 380,000 children aged 6-15 years old in humanitarian situations accessing education 
  • 76,000 children aged 3-5 years old in humanitarian situations accessing play-based learning 
Child Protection 


  • 20,000 children receiving psychosocial support through Safe Spaces 
  • 1,000 Separated and unaccompanied children are identified and are in family-based care or an alternative care 
Communication for development 


  • 700,000 people reached with key life-saving and behavior change messages on health 


 Across the entire region of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe an estimated 3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the wake of the disaster. UNICEF Ireland has launched an emergency fundraising appeal for children and families impacted. More information on the appeal can be found at www.unicef.ie 

About UNICEF UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. 

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook 


Danny Smits, UNICEF Ireland, +353 87 1308070, danny@unicef.ie  

Help protect children
UNICEF | for every child

Stay informed

Add value to your inbox!
Sign up to keep up to date on what's going on around the world.