Malawi President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has described the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy as worse than any climate change event in living memory.
Counting the cost of the damage to members of Parliament (MPs) in the National Assembly in Lilongwe on Wednesday afternoon, President Chakwera stressed that Cyclone Freddy is a national catastrophe that requires the attention of the whole world and every Malawian.
“As I stand before you today, the number of people confirmed dead has already passed 500. In case anyone is tempted to think that this is a small number, I remind you that the death toll would be the same if all of you Members of Parliament, your spouses, and one other member of your families all died in one day, thus wiping out the entire legislative branch of our Government from the face of the earth.
“If you would consider such an event a national catastrophe worthy of the attention of all the nations in the world and the attention of every citizen in our country, then I submit to you that Cyclone Freddy is precisely that kind of catastrophe,” he said.
“The impact goes far beyond the terrible loss of human life, the injuries, and the people missing. The cyclone has also left over half a million people displaced, following the washing away of over 100,000 homes. In some cases, entire villages were washed away,” said Chakwera.
The Malawi leader further disclosed that the humanitarian need this situation has created is beyond Malawi’s capacity to address without support.
President Chakwera further stated that in addition to being an angel of death, Cyclone Freddy has caused incalculable human suffering as over 1, 300 people have sustained injuries while over 530 people are still missing.
“Behind that number are stories of husbands who have no idea what became of their wives, of wives who have no idea what became of their husbands, of children who know not the fate of their parents, of parents who are missing a child, and of neighbors who have no knowledge of where someone next door or down the road ended up.
“Behind that number are stories of Malawians praying that someone they know is missing will be found alive, yet knowing that the likelihood of that shrinks with each passing day. In view of the scale of loss of human life and of human suffering, I declared a 14-day period of mourning and ordered flags to fly at half-mast for the first half of that period,” he said.
However, the President emphasized that despite facing the darkest hours in the history of Malawi, citizens should not watch events as they unfold, but take the necessary steps now for safeguarding a brighter tomorrow for Malawians.
He challenged that if Malawians are to see the light of a new dawn again, they must take stock not only of what they must do together as a nation.