Pope Francis at the end of his March 20, 2019, General Audience in St. Peter’s Square appealed for support for the victims of the major floods in three African Countries.
“In these days, major floods have sown grief and devastation in many regions of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. To these dear populations, I express my sorrow and my closeness,” the Holy Father said. “I entrust the many victims and their families to God’s mercy and implore comfort and support for those afflicted by this disaster.”
A violent cyclone called “Idai” hit three African states, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, where it has killed at least 157 people in a provisional toll (126 between Mozambique and Malawi, 31 in Zimbabwe), left hundreds more missing and stranded, Fides News Agency reported March 18, 2019.
The effects of bad weather affect more than a million and a half people, according to UN figures and official government sources. The typhoon is classified as category 4 hurricane strength, it manifests itself with intense rains and consequent flooding of the watercourses, while the gusts of wind reach even 170 kilometers per hour. Rural areas are the most affected, with tens of thousands of isolated people, destroyed roads, bridges and homes, no electricity or communications.
In Mozambique, where the cyclone struck on the evening of March 14, the greatest damage was recorded in the city of Beira, where more than 500,000 residents were blocked by floods, electricity was cut off and the airport was closed. According to the government’s first estimates, at least 600,000 people are affected throughout the country, including 260,000 children. On the weekend of 16/17 March, the cyclone moved to Zimbabwe, where about one and a half million people were in areas at risk. Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, declared a state of emergency in the affected areas. According to government data, in Malawi, more than 922,900 people have been affected in 14 districts, of whom 460,000 children.
“While we struggle together to respond to the disaster which has befallen us, we appeal to all Catholics and people of good will, donor agencies, and our International development partners to spare the little they might have to support our brothers and sisters who are trapped in this catastrophic condition,” said the March 20 appeal from from the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), where thousands of people were affected by the devastating floods that hit the southern and central parts of the country.