This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch  to whom quoted text may be attributed  at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In Mozambique, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the national government and other partners have begun the work of relocating families displaced by Cyclone Idai back to areas closer to their places of origin.

On Saturday 200 families were moved out of emergency shelters in the central town of Beira. It’s hoped that over the next 10 days some 70,000 further people will be moved out of the temporary sites they have been living in for the past month. These sites include schools, communal halls, libraries and other buildings.

Cyclone Idai hit the southern African nations of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in mid-March. Hardest hit was Mozambique where the cyclone killed some 600 people with more than 1,600 injured, according to official estimates. Nearly 240,000 houses have also been damaged and over 111,000 destroyed.

Families moved at the weekend came from the district of Buzi, the epicenter of devastation in Mozambique. There Cyclone Idai brought complete destruction.

As a first step, they were moved to a transit centre in Guara Guara, some 55 kilometres from their areas of origin in Buzi.

Guara Guara is on higher land and is more suitable for families to restart a life closer to home until they are able to recover old houses that have been completely destroyed. On arrival, the families were assigned emergency tents provided by UNHCR and by INGC (the Government of Mozambique’s agency for managing natural disasters).

The settlement is equipped with potable water and latrines, and the national government – with the support of the UN World Food Programme – is providing food. MSF is operating a health centre on the ground.

The families will stay in Guara Guara for up to three days and will receive a plot of land (20 x 30 meters, totaling 600 square meters), a kit of materials to clean the land and build their new houses, and seeds to start farming.

UNHCR is positioning its available stocks of relief items – including mosquito nets, solar lamps, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen sets, jerry cans and buckets – to be distributed to those families. Priority is given to the elderly, disabled persons, single women and unaccompanied children.

We are working with other humanitarian partners to ensure adherence to internationally accepted relocation standards, including the voluntary nature of the moves.

With an estimated 1.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Mozambique, aid organizations are facing immense challenges due to extensive damages to infrastructure and low funding. So far humanitarian agencies have been able to reach only 30 per cent of the target population.


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Originally published by UNHCR on 23 April 2019

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