Mozambique Flooding Disaster: Salim Appeals ToAfrican Leaders To Help Mozambique

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PANA) - In announcing a 500,000-US-dollarcontribution by the Organization of African Unity, OAU, to helpMozambique cope with its flooding crisis, Secretary-General SalimAhmed Salim Tuesday February 29, 2000, said he had made "directappeal" to African leaders to provide "whatever support they cangive" to Mozambique.

The money was in addition to a "token" assistance the secretarygeneral had made to the same cause 18 February as he made his initialappeal to the international community to assist Mozambique cope withthe worst floods in its history.

Salim told a press conference that although the amount of moneythe OAU was providing Mozambique was "relatively small to themagnitude of the crisis," it "is a clear and firm expression of oursense of concern and solidarity with the people of Mozambique" in thecontext of the limited resources of the organization. He lamentedthat the prevailing crisis in Mozambique was so "overwhelming," thatit has reached "very tragic and unbearable proportions."

Among the worst of affected victims of the combination ofdestructive cyclone, heavy rainstorms, over-flowing rivers andfloods, have been children, women and the elderly.

U.S. pledge $7million
Flood-ravaged Mozambique got a U.S. pledge (on TuesdayFebruary 29, 2000) of $7 million worth of food and $3 million inother aid to help thousands of people stranded as the country braceditself for more storms.Aid has been trickling into Mozambique, wheretelevision pictures have shown rescue workers in overladenhelicopters struggling to lift people to safety as waters continue torise after three weeks of flooding.

Defense Department spokesman Ken Bacon said more storms werecoming and that more than 100,000 people needed to be rescued. Aspokeswoman for the U.S. Agency for International Development toldReuters that Washington was also on the point of approving more cashto help a search and rescue operation and provide shelter and waterpurification chemicals. "The 15,000 metric tons of corn, 1,500 metrictons of peas, beans and lentils and 600 metric tons of vegetable oilwill get there over the next few weeks,'' she added. The new U.S.pledges came on top of $1.6 million and two planeloads of suppliesdue to arrive in the region on Wednesday, also supplied by the UnitedStates.

"We are prepared to send an additional $3 million for non-foodaid, such as payment for helicopters to aid in search and rescue,shelter and water purification chemicals,'' the spokeswoman said,adding that final approval was expected. The United States sent twoplaneloads of supplies to Mozambique and South Africa after floodsswept the region, killing at least 350 people and wrecking cropsvital for the winter in Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe andBotswana. Aid workers say privately that many hundreds more peoplemust have died.

Bacon said the U.S. cargo planes would arrive on Wednesday withtents, blankets, food and sheets of plastic for shelter. "We estimatethat the flooding in Mozambique has affected more than 500,000 peopleand that 105,000 are still in need of immediate rescue,'' Bacon said."We have a human assistance survey team in Mozambique and SouthAfrica. It has been there since February 21, moving back and forthbetween Mozambique and South Africa,'' he added.

Fourteen members of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department werealso due to leave for Maputo on Wednesday, one of two teamsdispatched by the U.S. government to aid in the search and rescueeffort. The USAID spokeswoman said the United States would continueto assess any more requests for help as they came in. "Sadly, theconditions keep worsening and they are expected to worsen stillbecause there are other storms coming along, according toforecasters,'' Bacon said.

In Mozambique, a country which had just started to see some shootsof recovery after a protracted civil war ended in 1992, more than800,000 people have been made homeless.
The United States has also set up a free telephone number forinformation on how to donate money, 1-800-USAID-RELIEF or1-800-872-4373 (Reuters)

As Mozambique and other parts of Southern Africacontinue to face severe flooding, churches actto offer support

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