Charity appeals for donations over Cyclone Idai ‘humanitarian emergency’

The British Red Cross has made an urgent appeal for donations to deal with the “severe humanitarian emergency” caused by Cyclone Idai across parts of Africa.

Authorities in Mozambique fear the death toll could be more than 1,000, while tens of thousands of people are said to have lost their homes there, as well as in nearby Malawi and Zimbabwe.

The United Nations described victims trapped on roofs and clinging to trees awaiting rescue, and said roads, bridges and crops have been washed away.

The situation is set to become even more challenging, with heavy rain predicted in the coming days, British Red Cross said.

Ben Webster, head of emergencies at the charity, 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.”

He said the developing picture shows it is “clear this disaster will require a huge international response”.

The charity has provided 2,000 tarpaulins, 3,000 mosquito nets and 3,000 blankets from its regional warehouse in Harare to the Zimbabwe Red Cross and has released some emergency funds through its community resilience programme in Zimbabwe.

Local Red Cross volunteers are helping with search and rescue operations, the distribution of aid and facilities for temporary camps.

Britain has pledged up to £6 million of aid and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said a team of experts was on the ground in Mozambique helping to co-ordinate the UK’s response.

Tents and thousands of shelter kits were sent to the country on Tuesday, and Ms Mordaunt has said the UK stands ready to “scale up our support if needed”.

Donations can be made to the British Red Cross Cyclone Idai appeal via www.redcross.org.uk/idai or by calling 0300 023 0811.

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