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Swiss join relief effort for flood-stricken Mozambique

Switzerland is supporting aid efforts for the flood victims in Mozambique. More than SFr2.2 million have been pledged by the government, non-governmental organisations and private donors.

This content was published on March 1, 2000 - 20:28

Switzerland is supporting aid efforts for the flood victims in Mozambique. More than SFr2.2 million have been pledged by the government, non-governmental organisations and private donors.

The foreign ministry has increased its aid to the stricken country to SFr1.8 million. The money will go towards food and medicine, as well as drinking water. The government's development agency is also sending an expert to the capital, Maputo, to help coordinate aid efforts.

Charities, including the Swiss branches of the Red Cross and Caritas, have pledged Sfr300,000 each. Aid organisation have also launched an appeal for private donations. The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation's Solidarity Chain is organising the fundraising campaign. Money can be paid into account number 10-15000-6.

An estimated one million people have been affected by the floods. The president, Joaquim Chissano said most of these had been forced to abandon their homes to escape the high waters. Thousands of people have been evacuated and emergency aid is being airdropped to the victims. At least 350 people have died in the floods.

The authorities say vast areas in Gaza province are flooded, and have called on the international community to increase aid.

A spokesman for the Swiss Development Agency said the main need at the moment was for helicopters to rescue people, many of whom have been stranded for days.

"Helicopters are available in the region, so what is needed right now is financing for these operations," said Thomas Frey, programme co-ordinator for the agency.

"A second need is now also emerging, which is a consequence of the first, and that is that there seems to be a lack of jet fuel in Mozambique now, so this could hamper the relief operation," Frey added.

Because so many people are still stranded, there are fears the death toll will rise. The charity, Médecins Sans Frontières, has warned of epidemics of malaria and cholera, following the heavy rain.

Mozambique has been one of the key countries for Swiss development aid since 1979. The foreign and economics minstries are funding aid programmes, notably in agriculture and health, with nearly Sfr28 million. Most projects are set in the north of Mozambique, which is less afftected by the bad weather.

From staff and wire reports

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