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China helps victims of cyclone in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi

By Lovemore Chikova (People's Daily Online)    16:00, April 02, 2019

Life is slowly returning to normal in areas affected by Cyclone Idai in three Southern African countries – Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi – two weeks after disaster struck.

A Chinese medical team assist a Cyclone Idai victim in Mozambique.

The major problem still confronting governments in all three countries is how to bring food relief to the millions of survivors who were literally cut off from the rest of the world after the cyclone destroyed roads and bridges.

Repair of the roads and bridges has started in earnest, but the level of destruction means that it will take much longer than anticipated to assess the affected areas without any hindrances.

In the meantime, with the help of other countries, including China, detours are being created to access the affected areas, while longer routes have also been opened to enable vehicles to take some food and other provisions to the survivors.

The difficult and painful rebuilding process is expected to take some time. It is a mammoth task considering that the cyclone affected more than 2.6 million people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, leaving thousands dead, missing, injured or infected with diseases.

In Mozambique, the death toll has reached nearly 500, with hundreds more missing and thousands injured, while in Zimbabwe 259 have been killed and hundreds of others are presumed dead after being declared missing.

Chinese community provides Cyclone Idai emergency in Zimbabwe.

In Malawi, the least affected country of the three, 56 people died, while 577 were injured. Rescuers are still combing the affected areas and retrieving more bodies from the rubble of destroyed infrastructure and under mud and huge stone boulders.

The cyclone first hit Mozambique, before it reached Zimbabwe on March 15 with devastating consequences in the country’s eastern highlands.

In the case of Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has managed to mobilise aid to bail out survivors, some of which live at gathering points where they can easily access help.

Most of the areas in the affected district of Chimanimani in the east of the country are still inaccessible after roads and bridges were destroyed by the cyclone.

Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun meets Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

On March 20, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his condolences to President Mnangagwa, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique and President Peter Mutharika of Malawi.

President Xi mourned the causalities and destruction caused by Cyclone Idai in the three countries in his condolence message.

On behalf of the Chinese government and people, and in his own name, Xi expressed deep condolences over the loss of lives, and extended sincere sympathies to the families of the victims and the missing, as well as to the injured and all those in the disaster-hit areas.

The Chinese people feel the pain of the three African countries, Xi said, adding that he is confident that under the strong leadership of their governments, the people of the three countries will prevail over the disaster and rebuild their homes soon.

In Zimbabwe, the Chinese government gave $800,000 to the victims of Cyclone Idai, according to newly appointed Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr. Guo Shaochun.

“The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe is authorised to announce that the Chinese Government decided to donate $800,000 in cash as emergency humanitarian assistance to the Zimbabwean Government to help with its disaster relief and rebuilding effort,” said Ambassador Guo.

He said a Chinese medical team in Zimbabwe was set to visit the areas affected by the cyclone with medical supplies and carry out free treatment.

“We hope these efforts will help the Zimbabwean people gain confidence and strength in the fight against the disaster and we believe that under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwean people will be able to recover from this disaster and rebuild their homes soon,” said Ambassador Guo.

Apart from the donation, China offered to help Zimbabwe rebuild infrastructure destroyed by the cyclone such as schools, roads, bridges, clinics and houses.

Chinese Counselor to Zimbabwe Mr. Zhao Baogang said funds were available under the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to cater for such restoration of infrastructure.

The destruction of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique.

“We will be very willing to join you in the reconstruction of the region in Chimanimani,” said Mr. Zhao. “Houses, clinics, schools were destroyed, and we can rebuild them; we can work together.

“The (Zimbabwean) Defence Minister can write to us and make a request under the framework of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation. Last year we had a successful summit and $60 billion was provided towards cooperation between China and African countries, including Zimbabwe.”

The Chinese government also handed over three truckloads of goods worth $200,000, including tents, water, mealie-meal and other essential commodities to the Zimbabwean government soon after disaster struck.

The Zimbabwean government, through Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, expressed appreciation for the gesture made by the Chinese government and the Chinese community in Zimbabwe.

“This is a gesture that we cherish, and we know that this is being presented in the spirit of the relationship that we so much enjoy from the time that we were undertaking our revolution to liberate Zimbabwe,” said Mrs. Muchinguri-Kashiri.

“We shared trenches with the Chinese during the struggle, and we continue to enjoy very cordial relations with them at international and at a bi-national level, and we are happy that today they are here in our midst.”

In Mozambique, the Chinese government offered similar help to the victims of Cyclone Idai.

The Asian economic giant also sent a rescue team made up of 65 members to Mozambique’s Beira region that was affected.

The rescue team brought 20 tonnes of equipment and materials for search and rescue purposes, as well as for communication and medical treatment, reported Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management dispatched the rescue team with the approval of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council. It was dispatched at the request of the Mozambican government.

The cyclone winds and floods that swept across south-eastern Africa, leaving the 2.6 million people stranded and thousands dead, raced at speeds of up to 170 kph (105 mph) from the Indian Ocean.

Lovemore Chikova is the Assistant Editor at The Herald newspaper in Zimbabwe and a fellow of the China-Africa Press Centre email: [email protected] 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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