Maputo — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for the rapid delivery of aid which donors promised to Mozambique in the wake of the two cyclones that hit the country in March and April.
Speaking in Maputo, after an audience with President Filipe Nyusi, Guterres said Mozambique urgently needs more assistance from the international community in order to recover from the damage caused by cyclones Idai and Kenneth.
"It is necessary not only to support, but to support in due time", Guterres told reporters. He believed that Mozambique has "an undeniable moral authority" to call for international aid, since the recent disasters it has suffered are clearly linked to climate change, to which Mozambique has made virtually no contribution.
"Mozambique has hardly contributed at all to global warming", said the UN chief, "but it is in the front line of the victims of this same global warming. This gives it the right to demand from the international community strong solidarity and strong support, both in response to the drama created by the storms that have hit the country, and in reconstruction and preparation for future situations".
Guterres was echoing remarks made by Nyusi himself during his visit to Portugal earlier in the month. "We are in a situation in which bombastic and beautiful announcements were made, but the aid promised has not arrived," he said on 4 July.
At the international donor conference held in the cyclone-battered city of Beira on 31 May - 1 June, donors pledged 1.2 billion US dollars, which is 38 per cent of the 3.2 billion dollars the government said it needed for reconstruction. Of that sum, only 790 million dollars is new money and 390 million is reallocated from other programmes.
Guterres said that his visit is a clear expression "of my personal solidarity, but above all the solidarity of the United Nations with the Mozambican people and their government, who have gone through an extremely difficult situation".
It was obvious that Mozambique needed more support than had been pledged in Beira, he said, and that support needed to arrive quickly.
Guterres stressed the readiness of the UN to assist in post-cyclone reconstruction, including appealing to the international community "to support the Mozambican people, in line with the scale of the problems they face".
Turning to the attempts to secure a lasting peace in Mozambique, Guterres said the UN is committed to supporting the dialogue between the government and the former rebel movement, Renamo. He had therefore appointed the current Swiss ambassador, Mirko Manzoni, as his personal envoy and this decision had been accepted by both the government and Renamo.
Manzoni has been the Swiss ambassador to Mozambique since 2014 and is the Chief Mediator and President of the International Contact Group in the negotiations between the government and Renamo. He will take up this new post upon conclusion of his tenure as Ambassador this year.
Guterres also expressed the willingness of the UN, through its Counter-Terrorism Task Force, to cooperate with the Mozambican defence and security forces in combating violent extremism, as expressed in the attacks by Islamic fundamentalists in parts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Nyusi thanked Guterres for the UN's support in the wake of the cyclones, and said he had briefed the UN head on the current stage of the negotiations to secure the demobilisation and disarming of the Renamo militia, and the integration of its members, either in the defence forces, or back into civilian life.
The expectation, Nyusi said, was that by the time general elections are held on 15 October, "there will be no armed parties, and we can celebrate a festival of democracy without fear".
The President also referred to the cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking between the Mozambican government and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), under an agreement signed in February 2018.
"We don't want to be a drugs corridor", said Nyusi, "and so we need to combine all our forces".
On Friday, the second and last day of his visit to Mozambique, Nyusi is scheduled to visit Beira, where he will see the damage done by cyclone Idai, speak with cyclone victims, and visit a resettlement area.