Deadly Cyclone Idai hits Southern Africa

Jesuit Missions is in touch with their partners in Southern Africa to respond to the humanitarian disaster caused by Cyclone Idai, which is thought to be one of the worst weather related disasters to ever hit the Southern hemisphere.

The death toll is currently in the hundreds but it is feared that this is likely to increase to thousands in the coming days.

The cyclone first hit Mozambique last Thursday near the port city of Beira, which is home to half a million people, including a Jesuit community. The city has felt the full force of the cyclone with winds up to 106mph, devastating the entire area. There is no electricity, drinking water is scarce and food is rapidly running out. Over 80,000 people have been left homeless.

The death toll includes two pupils from St Charles Lwanga Catholic boarding school in Zimbabwe. Falling rocks hit their dormitory in the district of Chimanimani. The main road which links the city of Mutare to the villages of Chimanimani has been cut off, restricting aid workers' access to the region.

The rivers Buzi and Pungoe have burst their banks flooding an area which is home to 200,000 people leaving many stranded on rooftops. Flood waters are continually rising, leaving people concerned about the potential scale of this disaster.

Reports indicate that 260,000 children are living in desperate conditions. The local authorities are concerned that damage to water supplies and over-crowding could lead to an outbreak of cholera.

Fr Chiedza Chimhanda SJ, Jesuit provincial of Zimbabwe-Mozambique, says: “the situation throughout Southern Africa is critical. For many people this Easter, the crucifixion of Jesus will take on a new meaning as they walk their own path to Calvary. It will take a few days to fully understand the impact and scale of this disaster. When we do, we will do all that is possible to support our sisters and brothers in need.”

Southern Africa has already been coping with chronic food shortages for much of this year and, once again, the poorest people will be the most affected.

We urgently need your help. Please support Jesuit Missions emergency Appeal for Cyclone Idai.

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Statement by Fr A.E. Orobator SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) on Cyclone Idai.