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Mozambique braces for violent floods after Cyclone Kenneth

Northern Mozambique braces for more violent weather as rescue workers and aid struggle to reach those who need it

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Residents push a car through the floods in Mazive, southern Mozambique, on April 28, 2019. - Heavy rains from a powerful cyclone lashed northern Mozambique on April 27, 2019, sparking fears of flooding as aid workers arrived to assess the damage, just weeks after the country suffered one of the worst storms in its history. Cyclone Kenneth, a Category Three storm on the hurricane scale, made landfall in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province late on April 25 after swiping the Comoros islands. It made landfall a day later, killing one person and wrecking thousands of homes. (Photo by Emidio Josine / AFP)

Tens of thousands of people in the far north of Mozambique are bracing for violent flooding as torrential rain pushes up water levels, after the death and devastation wrought by Cyclone Kenneth.

The first floods have already been seen in some parts of Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado province, as well as in surrounding areas, lashed by heavy rain since daybreak, AFP journalists reported.

Fields on the outskirts of the city that had been lush green just a day earlier were now brown with floodwater.

“It’s been raining hard since Sunday morning,” said Deborah Nguyen, spokeswoman for the UN World Food Programme. “Violent flooding is expected in and around Pemba.

“We are very worried because, according to the forecasts, heavy rain is expected for the next four days,” she added.

“We expect the rainfall to be twice as much as that which accompanied Cyclone Idai that hit the city of Beira last month.”

Idai hit central Mozambique six weeks ago and communities in that region are still reeling from floods that swept away homes, roads and bridges, leaving around 1,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands without shelter.

This time, around 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) further north, the city of Pemba and its 400,000 inhabitants face similar dangers.

“We are scared”

“Houses started to collapse in Natite neighbourhood, according to the rescue team operating there,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a tweet on Sunday.

“We are unfortunately expecting devastating floods as consequence of #CycloneKenneth’.”

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

In the small village of Mieze, around 20 kilometres to the south west, dozens of people gathered hoping to be rescued by boat.

“We are worried about the floods worsening because we don’t know where they will go,” Filomeno Sira, 45, whose home is one kilometre from the growing Mieze floodplain, told AFP.

“The government said we have to go to the top of the hill if the water continues to rise -— and we’ll go. We are scared because we don’t know.”

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

A number of UN agencies have deployed response teams in Pemba.

To the north of the provincial capital, the town of Macomia was counting the cost of the damage on Sunday, with homes and businesses destroyed, roofs torn off, trees and electric pylons uprooted.

The World Food Programme has started distributing food rations to stranded people, but has been forced to suspend operations to the most isolated areas where roads have been cut off. A helicopter was expected to arrive in Pemba to resume operations as quickly as possible.

Recovery efforts

“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.

“We had information of the storm from the weather service but we didn’t realise the scale of the cyclone until it hit,” Macomia’s mayor, Fernando Neves, told AFP.

“As you can see we are now trying to rebuild our lives after this storm and return to normality… It’s very hard.”

In the town centre, medical staff were having to make do with what they had, with no electricity and no medicine.

“This patient has not eaten and we don’t have anti-malarials,” said Joaquim Benedito, a nurse at the Macomia Health Center, gesturing to Nordine Joao, a frail-looking 15-year-old malaria patient being treated in a supply cupboard.

“He was sleeping outside when the cyclone came.”

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

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

East Africa News & Stories

Internet blackout hits cities in Ethiopia

An investigation found that with the exception of the capital Addis Ababa, most of the country’s cities had no internet.

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Internet blackout hits cities in Ethiopia

Most of Ethiopia was without internet access on Tuesday on the eighth consecutive day of an unexplained break.

An investigation found that with the exception of the capital Addis Ababa, most of the country’s cities had no internet.

Cherer Aklilu, executive director of the state monopoly Ethio Telecom, declined to give any details to explain the break.

“We expect to release an official statement on the internet blackout before the end of this week and we urge our users to be patient until that time,” she told AFP.

Internet access was cut on June 11, briefly restored and then severed again. It was restored for the Addis area on Friday.

The cut is the longest since reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to office in April last year in the Horn of Africa country.

The current break coincides with annual school-leaving exams, which end on Friday. In 2017, the authorities defended a similar blackout by saying they wanted to limit cheating for the important tests.

However, the internet was also repeatedly cut between 2015 and 2017 when the government at the time faced waves of protests.

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Africa News & Updates

Kenyan authorities say Ebola case is a “false alarm”

The Health Ministry has spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya has already taken.

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Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki speaks to the media as travellers at the arrival terminal are screened by port health service, at the Jommo Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi

Kenya sought to reassure the public and foreign visitors on Monday after a suspected Ebola case, which turned out to be negative, was detected near the border with Uganda.

Uganda last week reported three cases of Ebola, two of them fatal, among people who had been to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where an epidemic has been underway since last August.

Kenyan Health Minister Sicily Kariuki said a 36-year-old woman in the western county of Kericho had fallen ill with headache, fever and vomiting, which can also be symptoms of Ebola.

Further examination found she did not have the disease, Kariuki said at a press conference staged at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

“The Rapid Surveillance and Response Team has examined the patient, who is in stable condition, and has confirmed that she does not meet the case definition for Ebola,” she said.

“I wish to reassure all Kenyans and our visitors that we do not have any cases of Ebola.”

The Ugandan cases were confirmed in a town that is more than 600 kilometres from the border with Kenya.

Kariuki spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya had already taken.

They included the installation of thermal cameras at entry points to detect people with high temperatures, as well as isolation units to host suspected cases. More than 250 health ministry workers have been deployed at entry points as part of this strategy.

The minister called on the public to be vigilant, urging anyone with Ebola-like symptoms who had travelled to affected countries to go to the nearest hospital.

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Conservation News & Stories

Namibia plans to auction wild animals to raise money for conservation

An agriculture ministry report said 63,700 animals died in 2018 because of deteriorating grazing conditions brought on by dry weather

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Namibia plans to auction wild animals to raise money for conservation

Namibia has authorised the sale of at least 1,000 wild animals – including elephants and giraffes – to generate $1.1 million for conservation.

“Given that this year is a drought year, the [environment] ministry would like to sell various type of game species from various protected areas to protect grazing and at the same time to also generate much needed funding for parks and wildlife management,” environment ministry spokesman Romeo Muyunda told AFP.

The authorities declared a national disaster last month, and the meteorological services in the country estimate that some parts of the country faced the deadliest drought in as many as 90 years. 

“The grazing condition in most of our parks is extremely poor and if we do not reduce the number of animals, this will lead to loss of an animals due to starvation,” Muyunda said.

In April, an agriculture ministry report said 63,700 animals died in 2018 because of deteriorating grazing conditions brought on by dry weather.

Namibia’s cabinet announced this week that the government would sell about 1,000 wild animals.

They include 600 disease-free buffalos, 150 springbok, 65 oryx, 60 giraffes, 35 eland, 28 elephants 20 impala and 16 kudus — all from national parks.

The aim is to raise $1.1 million that will go towards a state-owned Game Products Trust Fund for wildlife conservation and parks management.

The government said there were currently about 960 buffalos in its national parks, 2,000 springbok, 780 oryx and 6,400 elephants.

The auction was advertised in local newspapers from Friday.

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