President of the World Catholic Association for Communications (SIGNIS) Helen Osman has expressed solidarity with the people of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe following the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Idai which has so far led to hundreds of death, massive destruction of property, displacement of thousands of people as well as injuries to many.
In her letter addressed to the President of Episcopal Conference of Malawi ECM Most Rev. Luke Thomas Msusa, SMM, Ms. Osman said that “as Catholic communicators, we know genuinely compassionate communication can comfort and encourage those who suffer such devastation. We support your efforts to provide a message of hope to your faithful. Together with you, they will rebuild their homes, their communities, their Church.”
She further indicated that SIGNIS embrace those families who have lost loved ones and holds in prayer all who are attempting to aid and comfort them, including first responders, aid agencies and civil authorities.
“Along with our members from the African continent, including our Vice-President Father Paul Samasumo from Zambia, we pray for the recovery of your region and the lives of its people,” the letter which was seen by AMECEA Online News said.
Ms. Osman further reiterate the commitment of Catholic Communicators to use the media to call upon people of good will to stand with the affected people in the three countries “as you work to meet the urgent needs of your people.”
Meanwhile an Inter-Agency assessment report obtained from Catholic Development Commission in Malawi (CADECOM) indicates that there is great fear of outbreak of water and airborne diseases following the congestions in the shelters for the displaced.
The report indicates that there is generally low sanitation coverage in the affected districts as water sources are feared to be contaminated by human waste and pesticides, Nsanje and Phalombe districts being the worst hit, hence the need for water treatment as well as provision of clean drinking water. While all humanitarian assistance is still crucial, the need to prevent an outbreak of water and airborne diseases in the shelters is paramount.
Further the report indicates that damages include partial and complete structural damage to houses and public buildings; submerged houses and public buildings; roads and bridges completely destroyed rendering them impassable, destroyed inundated crops and flooded rivers cutting communities and road access.
The total displaced households in the two districts is about 16,866 while total displaced individuals amount to 75, 900. Initial emergency response focuses on rescuing people who were trapped on rooftops, treetops and the like. Then the next requirement is to provide shelter to the displaced families and other basic necessities such as food, blankets and clean drinking water among others.
AMECEA therefore reiterate the appeal by Catholic Bishops in Malawi to collaborators and partners to offer the much needed humanitarian support through CADCOM, the dioceses, parishes or Religious Congregations that are working directly and among the people on the ground.