WFP chief to visit cyclone-battered Mozambique

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Rome, March 25 (IANS/AKI) United Nations World Food Programme chief David Beasley was on Tuesday due to visit Mozambique where Cyclone Idai devastated the port city of Beira on March 14 before moving inland through Zimbabwe and Malawi, leaving at least 750 people dead in its wake.

During his visit, Beasley will meet flood victims, government officials and aid workers in Beira and will hold a press conference at the airport, according to the statement.

WFP has launched a major operation to rush supplies to cyclone-hit areas and has already reached more than 115,000 people with emergency food assistance, the UN agency said.

The agency is also distributing easy-to-prepare fortified food to displaced flood victims sheltering in schools and other buildings in and around Beira, while large quantities of food supplies are being sourced in the southern Africa region and trucked and shipped to Mozambique, WFP said.

Satellite imagery has shown floodplains that included an “inland ocean” 125 km by 25 km, the size of Luxembourg, according to WFP.

Residents in Beira and remote surrounding areas are suffering shortages of food, water and other essentials and WFP helicopters are air-dropping High Energy Biscuits and specialized foods to prevent and treat malnutrition in stranded communities cut off by the floodwaters, the statement said.

Around 128,000 people whose homes were destroyed by the cyclone are living in makeshift camps. Cases of cholera and malaria have already been reported and health officials fear outbreaks of the diseases are inevitable.

Beasley will meet Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and members of the government in Mozambique’s capital Maputo on Wednesday, the UN country team and WFP staff members, WFP said.

–IANS/AKI

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