Over 300 Cyclone Idai Victims Still Missing

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By Makanaka Masenyama

OVER 300 people who were among thousands affected by Cyclone Idai in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts in March this year remain missing, 10 months after the disaster struck.

Cyclone Idai tore through parts of three provinces, Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East in mid-March causing massive loss to life, damage to infrastructure and the environment.

Over 260 people died while more than 270 000 mainly from Chipinge and Chimanimani districts were displaced.

However, according to reports from various international donor agencies operating in the two districts, over 300 are still unaccounted for. Indications are that efforts by the government to locate the missing victims have been abandoned.

Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Local Government, July Moyo on government’s progress in finding the missing citizens were unsuccessful. Moyo is responsible for coordinating Cyclone Idai relief efforts.

Zimbabwe experienced the most devastating natural disaster in the country’s recorded history and it had a devastating impact on already fragile nation.

The impact of the cyclone was further compounded by broader national challenges associated with limited fiscal space, liquidity challenges, high public debt and a difficult political environment which made recovery more difficult to mobilise support for.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said humanitarian needs continue to rise in Zimbabwe as most families struggled to cope with the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.

“Some 224 families who were unable to return home continued to live in four camps in Cyclone Idai-affected areas.  As the camps will remain over the rainy season, sanitation and bathing facilities need to be strengthened, as do protection measures, particularly to prevent gender-based violence,” OCHA said.

“At the same time, a combination of below-average rains and economic challenges indicated that the next harvest could be significantly curtailed.”