Following conclusion of familiarization tour across the disaster-stricken zones in the southern region, president Chakwera convened an emergency Cabinet Meeting at Sanjika palace in Blantyre which had an agenda to authorize release of 1.6 billion Kwacha towards relief support to people who have been left displaced and some injured by cyclone damage.
Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which started assaulting large parts of our country three days ago, has left over two hundred people dead and over eight thousand displaced into over 50 emergency camps established across the disaster proximities.
Holding a spontaneous national address trailing the Cabinet Meeting, president Chakwera has highlighted that the K1.6 billion released by Government will not be closer to being enough considering the “level of devastation [the country is] dealing with. He further indicated that the reason of declaring the State of Disaster was “to unlock additional support from the international community”.
In issuing an official update on the scale of devastation that Cyclone Freddy has caused on the country, Chakwera mentioned that “as of yesterday, the disaster had claimed 225 lives, injured 707 people, displaced over 83,000 people from 18,689 households, washed away newly planted farms, and destroyed public infrastructure like schools, health facilities, and roads in 13 districts, namely Blantyre, Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mulanje, Zomba, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Neno, Mwanza, Phalombe, Machinga, Balaka, and Mangochi”.
“From the little I have seen today, I can testify that the damage and the plight of the victims is far worse than the images and footage we have been seeing from a distance suggest”, Chakwera said recounting his visit done earlier today in Blantyre.
“As a case in point, this afternoon, I attended a funeral ceremony in Chilobwe Township for some of those we have lost in this disaster, and the sight of over twenty coffins laid side by side, including several from the same family, was nothing short of heartbreaking,” he lamented.
Chakwera has consequently announced that the nation should observe 14 days of mourning and that all flags fly at half-mast for the first 7 of those days, further cautioning that this mourning should not be done while being passive to the tragedy.
“Ours must be a mourning accompanied by action”, he said indicating that he will be in the southern region to coordinate immediate action aligned to four objectives.
“First, the actions I am now coordinating from here are to ensure that all those we have lost are given a proper and dignified burial and all those who are missing are accounted for. Secondly, the actions I am coordinating from here are to ensure that all those who are still stranded in unsafe areas are brought to safety in the shelters we have created to meet their immediate humanitarian needs. Thirdly, the actions I am coordinating from here are to ensure that all state actors, non-state actors, officials, and volunteers are pulling in the same direction and implementing one strategy so that we make the most of our shared efforts, and tomorrow we will update you on how you too can help. Fourthly, the actions I am coordinating from here are to ensure that we secure as much support from our international partners and local stakeholders as we can to meet the enormous needs that we are facing,” Chakwera told the nation during the address.
Meanwhile, the President has committed that the Government will be giving regular updates on the actions being taken each day to accomplish these objectives.