Blantyre — Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has assured people displaced by Cyclone Freddy that they will get the assistance they need.
Chakwera made the announcement Wednesday during his first visit to evacuation camps in Blantyre since he declared a state of disaster in all the flood-hit areas this week. The president also attended a mass funeral for the storm’s victims. The record tropical cyclone has killed more than 200 people in Malawi and scores more in neighboring Mozambique.
Chakwera said his government has set aside about $1.6 million to assist thousands of people affected and displaced by the cyclone in 10 districts in southern Malawi.
“I will soon call for a Cabinet meeting to endorse what we have so far budgeted for the crisis,” said the president. “Because if we try to follow financial approval procedures, we will put lives of the victims at risk.”
Displaced people say they lack food, clothes, clean water and soap.
During the president’s visit, the government donated several kinds of relief items, such as flour, clothes and buckets.
The president also attended a mass funeral for 28 people killed by the storm.
Chakwera said his government has asked neighboring countries to assist Malawi with rescue airplanes to complement the search-and-rescue efforts under way in the country.
Authorities in Malawi say more than 35 roads have been impacted by the floods, making it difficult to provide help to many cyclone victims.
“We are currently consulting our development partners for assistance, although they also are facing various problems,” he said. “We want them to assist us so we can assist our people who are badly affected by Cyclone Freddy.”
The U.S. government, through various agencies, is responding immediately to the crisis, said Namita Biggins, the public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Malawi.
“We are providing emergency shelters to affected households in Nsanje and Chikwawa through our existing $2 million support through Catholic Relief Services,” she said in an audio statement on Tuesday. “USAID has also initiated the process of swiftly allocating additional, lifesaving resources to provide essential humanitarian assistance to include blankets, buckets, tarps, chlorine tablets to ensure clean water, mosquito nets and more.”
Biggins said USAID has staff on the ground coordinating closely with the Emergency Operations Center in Blantyre to determine how the U.S. government can help the government of Malawi reach the hardest-hit communities.
Weather experts in Malawi say Cyclone Freddy has now weakened, but the rains will continue for the next few days, largely because of an incoming weather front from Congo.