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Zimbabwe: Cyclone Idai leaves thousands of refugees and asylum seekers at Tongogara Camp susceptible to diseases

An asylum seeking woman is seen at Tongogara refugee camp where life is diverse within the refugee camp and daily life activities vary from children flying their kites, playing various games, while others just take time to do everyday chores like fetching water, bathing their childen and walking around at Tongogara Refugee camp about 300 kilometres South East of the Capital of Harare. ; Chipinge which is close to the International border with Mozambique is home to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Camp which is home to over 2000 refugees.

MUTARE – THOUSANDS of refugees living at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Manicaland are in danger of contracting diseases after their water and sanitation infrastructure was damaged during violent storms brought by last month’s Cyclone Idai.

The camp, situated outside Chipinge, houses more than 20 000 refugees mainly from African countries like Mozambique, DRC, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and Sudan, among others.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Country Representative Robert Tibagwa said the situation at the camp was desperate for urgent solutions as the camp occupants were in dire need of clean drinking water.

“When the cyclone hit, approximately 1 060 houses were affected at various stages. Some were completely destroyed. That affected approximately 5 300 people,” Tibagwa said.

“The second thing that was affected was water and sanitation infrastructure; boreholes were flooded. So, that has resulted in a shortage of clean drinking water. Latrines were sunk or were flooded. That has resulted in serious contamination of the water systems.

“We have already taken action on reconstructing latrines and we have got supplies to support those who do not have proper shelter; we have got supplies from Zambia.”

On Sunday, the UNHCR handed over to government, some 80 tonnes relief items including family tents, plastic tarpaulins, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, solar lamps and kitchen sets to support 10 000 people who were affected by Cyclone Idai in Chipinge district.

In Zimbabwe, the hostile weather phenomenon displaced an estimated 90 000 people in nine districts mainly in the eastern highlands part of the country.

The cyclone has reportedly killed over 300, with some more 300 still missing. Some 270 000 people have been affected one way or the other by the catastrophe.

Most vulnerable are women and children who are in dire need of relief and recovery support.

About 95 per cent of the infrastructure, including schools, roads and bridges was damaged in Chimanimani district.

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