Mozambique: PM - Main Task Remains Guaranteeing Assistance to Cyclone Victims

Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario on Wednesday stressed that the main task for the government at the moment remains guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to the victims of the two cyclones that hit Mozambique recently - Cyclone Idai in the central provinces and cyclone Kenneth in the far north.

Answering questions from deputies in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Rosario said between them the two cyclones are known to have killed 648 people, and affected 1.8 million.

The government remained committed to distributing food, medicines, mosquito nets and water purification products to the cyclone victims, and to emergency repairs of the damaged access roads.

As for concerns about the theft of food aid, Rosario said that, in the interests of transparency, the official relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) was regularly publishing in the Mozambican media lists of the donations received.

He assured the deputies that all the INGC's humanitarian assistance operations will be subjected to an external audit.

Rosario said the government wants to resettle as soon as possible those cyclone victims who are still living in temporary accommodation centres.

"We are creating the conditions for resettlement in safe areas so that the people affected do not return to the areas of risk", he added. "Our strategy advocates resettlement oriented towards development. This consists of demarcating and distributing plots of land, and establishing basic social services, including water supply, electricity, health units and schools".

In the cyclone affected areas, there were huge agricultural losses. 813,000 hectares of crops planted for the first sowing season were swamped. Rosario said the government now is distributing seeds and tools "so that the affected populations can make the most of the second sowing season, so as to guarantee food security and avoid dependence on donations".

The Prime Minister warned that climate change "is one of the greatest challenges of our time and its adverse effects compromise the country's capacity and effort to achieve its socio-economic development goals".

To face these challenges, he said, the government is "strengthening our institutional capacity to monitor climate change" and is adopting "technologies to build infrastructures that are resilient to climate change".

Rosario added that the government is acquiring land, sea and air resources "to allow rapid and safe rescue operations in the event of natural disasters".

Asked about the insurgency, apparently motivated by Islamic fundamentalism, in parts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, Rosario said the political situation in Mozambique "is stable, expressed in the prevalence of peace, the normal functioning of public and private institutions, and peaceful coexistence between the various political and civil society players".

He admitted "some challenges regarding public order and security" in the Cabo Delgado districts of Mocimboa da Praia, Macomia, Palma and Nangade, but claimed that actions by the defence and security forces are "neutralising and throwing into disarray the groups of criminals".

Justice Minister Joaquim Verissimo added that the number of defence personnel in Cabo Delgado has been boosted, including the stationing of forces in those villages thought most likely to be attacked.

He said that 992 families who had fled from their villages because of the terrorist raids have now returned to their homes, and at least nine schools closed by the insurgency have reopened.

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