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Cyclone Kenneth claims 38 lives in Mozambique, homes destroyed

According to figures provided by the Mozambique authorities to NGOs, around 200,000 people in Cabo Delgado are in danger.

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Mozambique faces cyclone kenneth
People wade through flood water in Pemba, Mozambique. Photo credit: The Guardian

Heavy rain battered northern Mozambique on Monday, as residents and relief workers confronted the widespread devastation wrought by Cyclone Kenneth, the strongest cyclone to ever hit Africa, which killed 38 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

Roads have been washed away, fields submerged and many buildings wrecked by the storm, which came weeks after Cyclone Idai hit the Mozambican city of Beira, 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) to the south.

Cyclone Kenneth made landfall late on Thursday in Cabo Delgado province, packing wind gusts of up to 220 kilometres per hour.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) described it as the strongest cyclone to ever lash the continent, and predicted further heavy rain over the coming days.

“Cyclone Kenneth made landfall at the end of the rainy season, when river levels were already high, increasing the risk of river flooding,” the UN agency said in its latest update.

“Humanitarian needs in Mozambique have sky-rocketed, and the humanitarian response will need to rapidly scale-up.”

According to figures provided by the Mozambique authorities to NGOs, around 200,000 people in Pemba city, the capital of Cabo Delgado, are in danger.

According to a preliminary toll from the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC), 38 people have died, 39 have been injured, more than 23,000 people are without shelter and nearly 35,000 homes have been either partly or completely destroyed.

‘We don’t know what we’ll do’

“The water came inside the house and all the way to the backyard,” said Sumala Cabila, 23, standing in his family home in Pemba’s working-class Piquite suburb, which flooded on Sunday morning.

As rain poured down and roads in the district became impassable, except for 4-wheel-drive vehicles, Cabila’s sister struggled to look after her one-month-old child.

“If it continues to rain, we don’t know what we’ll do,” he said as water streamed of his slanted roof.

In Pemba, a tourist destination, staff mopped up pools of water at a hotel and cleared tree branches out of the lobby fountain, while labourers struggled to clear out the city’s drainage system blocked by flood debris.

“(We) planned to mobilise as much aid as possible to Ibo and also from there to Quissanga via Roa,” said UN-OCHA official Saviano Abreu, naming two areas outside Pemba worst hit by storm damage and flooding.

“It was the priority for government and humanitarian organisations, as these two areas are in urgent need.

“We managed to send one flight with World Food Programme (WFP) supplies of rice and biscuits, and some non-food items. But unfortunately, the weather conditions are changing too fast and threatening the operation. It’s raining again and the second flight couldn’t go.”

To the north of Pemba, the town of Macomia was also badly hit, with homes and businesses destroyed, roofs torn off, trees and electric pylons uprooted.

“We have grave fears for the thousands of families currently taking shelter under the wreckage of their homes. They urgently need food, water, and shelter to survive the coming days,” said Nicholas Finney, head of Save the Children’s response team in Mozambique.

The northern region hit by Cyclone Kenneth is more sparsely populated than Beira, which was hit by Cyclone Idai in mid-March.

But the area has also been hard hit by deadly raids by a jihadist group over the past 18 months that the army has been unable to control. 

Before smashing into Mozambique, Kenneth passed by the Comoros islands.

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Central Africa News

Measles is a bigger threat in DR Congo than Ebola – NGO

Last year, cases more than doubled to almost 350,000 from 2017, according to the World Health Organization

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Measles has killed 2,758 people in DR Congo since January, more than the Ebola epidemic in a year, medical NGO Doctors Without Borders said, and called Saturday for a “massive mobilisation of funds.”

The disease, preventable with a vaccine, has infected over 145,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo between January and early August, it said in a statement.

“Since July, the epidemic has worsened, with a rise in new cases reported in several provinces,” said the NGO that goes by its French acronym MSF.

“Only $2.5 million has been raised out of the $8.9 million required for the Health Cluster response plan  — in stark contrast with the Ebola epidemic in the east of the country, which attracts multiple organisations and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding,” it added.

MSF tweeted that without a “massive mobilisation of funds and response organisations, the current measles outbreak in #DRCongo could get even worse.”

The NGO said it has vaccinated 474,860 children between the ages of six months and five years since the beginning of the year and provided care to more than 27,000 measles patients.

In the country’s east, Ebola has claimed more than 1,900 lives since erupting last August.

Measles is a highly-contagious diseased caused by a virus that attacks mainly children. The most serious complications include blindness, brain swelling, diarrhoea, and severe respiratory infections.

Last year, cases more than doubled to almost 350,000 from 2017, according to the World Health Organization, amid a rise in “anti-vaxxer” sentiment in some countries that can afford the vaccine, and lagging resources for the preventative measure in poor nations.

DR Congo declared a measles epidemic in June.

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Two UN personnel killed in Benghazi by car bomb

Two members of the UN mission were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb.

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Two UN personnel killed in Benghazi by car bomb
Libyan firefighters extinguish a fire at the site of a car bomb attack in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi on August 10, 2019. - "Two members of the UN mission, one them a foreigner, were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb" in a shopping area of the Al-Hawari district, the official said. (Photo by - / AFP)

A car bombing in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi killed two United Nations staff on Saturday, a security official said.

“Two members of the UN mission were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb” in a shopping area of the Al-Hawari district, the official said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which happened as a UN convoy was passing through the area.

Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the cradle of the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was hit by years of violence targeting diplomatic offices and security forces after his fall.

An attack on the US consulate on September 11, 2012, killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

In 2017, military strongman Khalifa Haftar drove hardline Islamists and jihadists out of Benghazi after a three-year battle.

Haftar, who backs an eastern-based administration that opposes the Tripoli-based unity government, went on to seize Derna, the last city in eastern Libya outside his control.

But bombings and kidnappings have continued.

A May 2018 attack left seven people dead and last month, a car bombing at the funeral of an ex-army commander killed at least four people and wounded more than 30 others.

A Libyan lawmaker is also feared to have been abducted by an armed group in the eastern city, the UN and lawmakers said in July.

Haftar controls most of eastern Libya, and early this year he ordered his self-styled Libyan National Army to purge the south of what he called “terrorist groups and criminals”. 

On the heels of that campaign, his LNA launched in April an offensive to take the Libyan capital from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord. 

The LNA on Saturday announced a truce around Tripoli for the three-day Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha, after the unity government conditionally accepted a ceasefire called for by the UN.

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Central Africa News

76 people survive shipwreck in DR Congo

The motorised boat was carrying around 100 passengers when it capsized on the lake, near the eastern city of Bukavu.

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DR Congo boat accident claims 11 lives, dozens missing

76 people have survived a shipwreck on Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a regional official said Saturday. However, more than a dozen people are feared to have drowned in the same incident.

The motorised boat was carrying around 100 passengers when it capsized on the lake, near the eastern city of Bukavu. 

“We have already registered 76 survivors,” said Swedi Basila, the regional transport minister for South Kivu province, adding that up to 20 people were still missing.

“No body has been found until now,” he told AFP.

The vessel had been on its way to the island of Idjwi when it hit a large rock and capsized, Basila said.

River transport is one of the most used in DR Congo with its numerous waterways. Boat mishaps are common, typically caused by overloading of passengers and cargo.

Tolls are often high because there are no life jackets and many Congolese do not know how to swim.

In April, at least 167 people were killed in two accidents, prompting President Felix Tshisekedi to make it mandatory for boat passengers to have life jackets. 

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