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Cyclone Idai: CARE puts women, girls and children at heart of relief distributions

"There are many children who have lost parents, several have been injured and everyone is hungry."

CARE International’s staff across southern Africa say evidence on the ground shows that Cyclone Idai’s most vulnerable have been pregnant and lactating mothers, women and children.

As flood waters begin to subside, CARE’s distribution of aid has focused on this group of people who are suffering disproportionately, with latest reports indicating that more than 700 people are now confirmed dead in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

“CARE staff are working around the clock and are making an extra effort to provide relief to those that are hardest to reach.  There are many children who have lost parents, several have been injured and everyone is hungry. The most affected are the pregnant and lactating mothers, women and children,” CARE spokesperson, Jennifer Bose said from Beira, Mozambique.

“Today, CARE and its partners are delivering 50 family tents, 200 hygiene kits, 200 shelter kits and water tanks in the hard hit Dondo district near Beira.  One of our major concerns at this stage is to stem off the likelihood of a disease outbreak. We are making sure soaps and water purification tablets are included in hygiene and sanitary packs.”

In Malawi, CARE has distributed water buckets, chlorine for water treatment and plastic sheets for roofing of temporary shelters to 1,500 households. CARE is also leading in coordinating protection work in all the camps setting up protection committees and training them on how to handle issues related to gender and sexual violence.

“Our main priority is to ensure that women and girls have access to life saving assistance and protection services in all the camps we are working,” says Matthew Pickard, CARE International Regional Manager for Central and Southern Africa. “Almost all the women and girls we have interacted with in the camps lost everything they had, including personal belongings. Some only have the clothes they are putting on and nothing else, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation.”

In Zimbabwe, authorities say 259 people have died, but CARE experts are expecting the numbers to increase significantly in the coming days as search and rescue operations continue.

Monique Morazain, CARE Zimbabwe’s assistant country director, said: “We are facing an enormous challenge regarding access. Although more roads are now accessible, initially they had been completely flooded and bridges had collapsed. Aid has mobilized, and there's a lot coordination with the government and the UN but getting access to the most affected has been a struggle. The only way to reach affected areas has been by helicopter.

“This crisis comes on top of a severe drought in the country and in the region, so there was already important food insecurity within the areas that have been hit by the cyclone. While we’re responding to immediate needs, there will be long-term needs to be addressed as well,” she added.

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CARE has spokespeople available in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Contact:

Darcy Knoll
Communications Specialist | CARE Canada
darcy.knoll@care.ca | 613-228-5641

For inquiries before 6:30am EDT, contact:

Henry Makiwa
Senior Humanitarian Communications Coordinator | CARE International
makiwa@careinternational.org

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