UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres (left) and Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi leave a press conference in Maputo, July 11 2019. Picture: WILKUS DE WET / AFP
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres (left) and Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi leave a press conference in Maputo, July 11 2019. Picture: WILKUS DE WET / AFP

Maputo  — UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres on Thursday called on the international community to provide more aid to Mozambique, where two cyclones killed hundreds and wrought widespread destruction earlier in 2019.

Cyclones Idai and Kenneth struck just six weeks apart, flattened parts of cities and villages and, in the case of Idai, which crashed into Mozambique’s central region in March, prompted devastating floods, in one of the worst weather-related disasters to hit the southern hemisphere.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi in the capital of Maputo, Guterres said the cyclones were a consequence of climate change — “which Mozambique is on the frontline of but does not contribute to”.

“This gives me the right to demand the international community double its efforts,” he said, noting that appeals for post-cyclone aid have gone underfunded.

An emergency UN appeal for Mozambique following Idai received less than half of the $282m requested, while donors at a pledging conference in the cyclone-hit port city of Beira raised $1.2bn for reconstruction — less than half of the $3.2bn Mozambique said was required.

Idai killed about a 1,000 people across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Kenneth hit further north with winds of up to 280km/h, killing about 45 people and destroying rural villages.

It was the first time two powerful cyclones had struck Mozambique in the same season, destroying homes, infrastructure and crops in areas where many already lived in poverty. Climate change is expected to see the country increasingly exposed to extreme weather.

The country’s north is also struggling with a nascent Islamic insurgency, which has seen militants kill more than 100 people and which complicated the relief effort in the aftermath of the storm.

Guterres said the UN would help Mozambique prevent young people from becoming radicalised, including by providing experts to support the country in communicating with disenfranchised groups.

Reuters