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UN appeals for more support towards cyclone survivors in Malawi

The United Nations in Malawi (UN) has appealed for more support towards survivors of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, observing that tens of thousands of people are still without adequate shelter and other requirements to survive.

UN Resident Coordinator Rebecca Adda-Dontoh made the appeal in a statement issued after her visit to some camps in the disaster-hit districts of the Southern Region.

In a statement issued on Friday, Adda-Dontoh says one month after the passage of Tropical Cyclone Freddy—which swept through 15 districts in southern Malawi, destroying lives, livelihoods and homes—communities ravaged by the storm still require urgent assistance and support as they strive to survive the aftermath of the devastating floods and mudslides.

“In the weeks since this tragedy struck, I have been absolutely inspired by the many people who have helped their neighbours and fellow Malawians impacted by Tropical Cyclone Freddy,” said Adda-Dontoh.

“In support of these incredible communities and the government-led response, 60 UN agencies and non-governmental organizations have provided life-saving assistance to people affected by the disaster. However, much more remains to be done.”

Malawi is one of the countries that have been hardest-hit by the increased rainfall accompanying tropical cyclones in Southern Africa as a result of human-induced climate change.

Since 12 March 2023, close to 230,000 people have been reached with vital assistance and support, including food for the most vulnerable people, safe water and sanitation facilities and hygiene services, access to health care, including sexual and reproductive health, and emergency shelter, such as tents and tarpaulin.

This has included the airlifting of relief, especially food, to areas that remain cut off or difficult to reach by road. However, with humanitarian partners’ Flash Appeal for Malawi less than 11 percent funded, there are critical gaps in the response and additional contributions are urgently required for humanitarian partners to scale-up assistance, in support of the government-led response.

TCF Survivors at Mthawira Parish Camp, Machinjiri, Blantyre

Adda Dontoh says in the statement that humanitarian partners in Malawi are committed to a response that places people at the centre and have zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse.

She, however, discloses that despite their best efforts, tens of thousands of people are still without adequate shelter.

“We also need to step-up the provision of clean water, sanitation and hygiene, especially in light of the cholera outbreak. And we need to ensure that women and children, in particular, are protected from violence, exploitation and abuse, given the many risks generated by this crisis,” said Ms. Adda-Dontoh.

“Our response in the first 30 days was made possible by the support of the international community, who have so far generously contributed US$7.6 million. I am today calling on donors to redouble their support to fill the critical shortfalls in funding so that we can do even more in the month ahead.”

Malawi is one of the countries that have been hardest-hit by the increased rainfall accompanying tropical cyclones in Southern Africa as a result of human-induced climate change, according to a recent research. Yet, the country contributes just 0.04 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Tropical Cyclone Freddy—which killed over 1,000 people—is a devastating reminder of the human cost of the global climate crisis.

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