Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera is appealing for additional humanitarian assistance for thousands of Malawians displaced by Cyclone Freddy, which has killed more than 500 people in the country.
Chakwera made the urgent request to Malawi’s parliament on Wednesday, when he was presenting an assessment of the impact of the cyclone, which also hit Mozambique.
Though the country is receiving a lot of local and international assistance for the victims, he said, more aid is needed.
“So many have responded positively to our appeal, and I have personally committed to acknowledge every support, for the situation is so grave that we simply cannot take any contribution for granted,” he told lawmakers. “However, the supplies we are deploying are far from enough for the magnitude of the need.”
Malawi’s Disaster Management Affairs Department says there are more than 500,000 people who have been displaced living at 534 camps.
Chakwera told the lawmakers to bury their political differences and work together to address the devastation caused by the powerful storm.
“This is one of the darkest hours in the history of our nation,” he said. “And if we are to emerge in this dark hour and see the joy of a new dawn in the future, we must all roll up our sleeves and get to work. If we are going to see the light of a new dawn again, we must take the necessary steps now for safeguarding a brighter tomorrow for Malawians.”
Chakwera announced the government will soon introduce legislation aimed at helping to safeguard people from natural disasters.
Kondwani Nankhumwa, leader of opposition political parties in the Malawi Parliament, welcomed the plan to have legislation for disaster management and emphasized the government must deal with sanitation issues at evacuation camps to avoid the outbreak of diseases.
“Our water resources have been depleted, boreholes have been washed away, taps have been washed away,” said Nankhumwa. “Let me register a call that the government should look into this with other partners, because if we allow these people to continue drinking unprotected water from unprotected wells, then there will be an outbreak of other diseases in camp.”
Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi amid its deadliest cholera outbreak of the past two decades, which so far has killed at least 1,600 people.
The Malawi Health Ministry warned this week that the cyclone has increased the risk of the spread of other communicable diseases, such as typhoid and dysentery.