As humanitarian assistance continues to pour in towards victims of Tropical Cyclone Idai that ravaged Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the African Union Commission yesterday announced a US$350,000 emergency fund for disaster mitigation.
According to a statement by the AU Commission Chairperson Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, the contribution is "in support of response efforts being made by the governments of the affected countries and the (Southern African Development Community) SADC secretariat". Mozambique, which is the hardest hit will receive US$150,000.
The AU Chairperson also announced the immediate dispatch of a High-Level Assessment Mission to the three countries, as he thanked neighbouring countries and partners that have already rendered assistance to the affected countries.
Mr Mahamat called on all "AU member states and the larger international community to urgently step up their support in order to effectively address the immediate response challenges at hand."
The AU Chairperson made the announcement after meeting Malawi's Permanent Representative Ambassador Mhimango Edward Chirwa.
Mr Chirwa was briefing the Chairperson on the scope of the disaster in Malawi, which he described as "unprecedented and beyond his country's capacity to respond".
Meanwhile, Namibian President and current SADC Chairperson Hage Geingob has sent a message of condolence, saying how his country will contribute towards the disaster.
Writing on his Twitter handle, President Geingob said: "Following Cyclone Idai, SADC stands in solidarity with the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi."
He called on the corporate world to assist, saying Namibia would "provide quantities of fish as part of the relief contribution. I call on business to assist our brothers and sisters affected by this unbearable natural disaster."
Earlier in the week, South Africa's International Relations and Co-operation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu made an urgent appeal to NGOs, companies and individuals to give humanitarian aid to people affected by the cyclone.
"We have directed all our embassies and diplomats to continue to work with the three countries to assess the damage," said Minister Sisulu.
She also sent a message of condolences on behalf of the people of South Africa, and wished those in hospital, speedy recovery.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday also sent a message of condolence and encouragement. Writing on his Twitter handle, President Kenyatta said, "to my friends Presidents @FNyusi (Filipe Nyusi), @edmnangagwa (Mnangagwa) & Peter Mutharika, Kenya stands with you and your people as you mourn and recover from the destruction."
Cyclone Idai is one of the worst natural disasters to affect the SADC region in a long time. It has affected more than two million people, displaced hundreds of thousands others, destroyed vast areas, cut off communications and made roads impassable for first responders. Hundreds of people have been killed in all countries.