- More than one million children affected by the cyclone and floodwaters
- World Vision teams reach more than 3,500 people, aiming for tens of thousands in the coming week
- Rising floodwater bring fresh dangers to those without shelter and access to clean water and food
March 25, Beira –With more than one million children affected by the cyclone and its aftermath, World Vision’s efforts to meet basic survival needs are compounded by fears for those left orphaned or separated from parents.
“We continue to hear and see the devastating effects of this emergency on children; babies being treated in the main hospital in Beira died when the electricity for their care went out, an unknown number of children were separated from family members during the cyclone and the rescue chaos that followed. If we don’t act fast, very vulnerable child survivors of this disaster could be further victimised through sexual violence, trafficking and early marriage,” said Claire Rogers, World Vision Australia CEO, on the ground in Beira.
More than 3,500 people in Zambézia province received tents, tarps, blankets, mosquito nets and other basic shelter tools from World Vision over the weekend, as the relief effort gets underway.
“We have planeloads of aid arriving, and we are working to make use of locally available supplies, but with whole communities inaccessible except by air, things are taking longer than we would like,” said Rogers.
“The child-friendly spaces we are hoping to set up soon will provide a safe place for children to find refuge and play. We have heard of children being housed in overcrowded orphanages or taken to camps where they won’t have the protection they need.”
While it is still early days, the long-term impact on children is an ongoing concern for World Vision, given the vulnerability of some children in all three countries before the cyclone hit.
“Both Malawi and Mozambique already had critically-high rates of child marriage. We know that when shocks like natural disasters hit families who are already vulnerable, it can force parents to make decisions they don’t want to – such as sending their young daughters into marriage as a way to cope.”
Before this disaster hit we know that girls in Zimbabwe suffered from high rates of sexual violence, with as many as one in three girls having endured an assault.
“We must remember just how vulnerable children in parts of these countries were before this one-in-a-generation disaster hit last week,” said Rogers. “For those of us working on the ground, ensuring aid gets through and we help families rebuild their lives in the best way possible, the hope that our efforts can also protect children is motivating us in very difficult circumstances.”