The Swiss Red Cross is to double the amount of aid it is providing to flood victims in southern Africa. Although the situation in the region is now reported to be under control, aid workers warn that further rains could worsen the humanitarian crisis.This content was published on March 11, 2000 - 12:25
The Swiss Red Cross is to double the amount of aid it is providing to flood victims in southern Africa. Although the situation in the region is now reported to be under control, Swiss aid workers warn that further rains could worsen the humanitarian crisis.
The organisation is sending 600 tents, thousands of blankets and cooking utensils to meet the needs of people made homeless by the floods. They will be distributed around the worst-hit areas in Zimbabwe, Swaziland and especially Mozambique.
The SRC has already devoted SFr600,000 to support relief operations in the region. Part of the aid has come from state humanitarian funds and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation's Solidarity Chain.
Meanwhile, an official from the Swiss Development Agency has just returned from a fact-finding trip to Mozambique. Jean Phillipe Jutzi told Swissinfo that, although the situation is under control for the moment, further rains could unleash an even greater humanitarian catastrophe.
He added that the biggest immediate problem remains the distribution of drinkable water and food. With the relief effort being hampered by bad weather, he warned that the threat of malaria and cholera outbreaks could worsen in the coming days.
So far, more than a million people have been affected by the floods, which cover an area larger than Switzerland. A quarter of a million have been made homeless, and aid workers say the eventual death toll could run into the thousands.
Switzerland, Germany and Austria have launched an ambitious programme aimed at installing purification systems to provide clean water for up to 50,000 people. It is hoped this will help prevent further deaths from disease.
According to the Development Agency, Switzerland will concentrate on rebuilding Mozambique's health care infrastructure and water distribution network. Extra aid workers have been sent to the region and a total of some SFr10 million has been donated to support relief work in the region, in addition to normal grants.
Martin Fäassler, the Development Agency's desk officer for the flood-hit region, says the catastrophe is a real set back for Mozambique. He estimates it will take ten years to repair the economic damage.
Swissinfo with agencies
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