BEIRA – The United Nations World Food Programme declared the Mozambique flood crisis a Level 3 emergency Friday, putting it among top response priorities for the organisation, on a par with Yemen, Syria and South Sudan.
The designation will accelerate the massive operational scale-up now underway to assist victims of last week’s Category 4 cyclone and subsequent large-scale flooding that claimed countless lives and displaced at least 600,000 people.
It follows the Mozambican government’s declaration earlier this week of a national emergency – the country’s first – and request for international assistance, which triggered the activation of global, multi-agency ”clusters” to coordinate relief efforts on food security, logistics and emergency telecommunications (led or co-led by WFP) as well as on water and sanitation.
Satellite imagery shows numerous floodplains, including an “inland ocean” 125 km by 25 km – the size of Luxembourg – where water levels surged as high as 11 metres, submerging almost everything in their path.
An MI-8 transport helicopter contracted by the WFP-run United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) continued to airdrop food – including WFP high-energy biscuits (HEBs) and micronutrient-rich peanut paste used to prevent and treat malnutrition as well as tents, medicines and other essentials for stranded communities outside Beira.
Another 20 metric tons of biscuits airlifted from a WFP-operated UN emergency response depot in Dubai landed in the western city of Chimoio on Friday, and a further planeload is due to arrive in Beira on Saturday.
More than 20,000 people have received WFP food assistance so far, while two more UNHAS MI-8s, and two cargo planes with a capacity of 10 and 20 metric tons, were due to join the relief effort in a few days.
The procurement and dispatch of large quantities of food for the Mozambique crisis continued elsewhere in southern Africa, including cereals, vegetable oil, and fortified blends from South Africa and Zambia.