Zimbabwe: EU supports deployment of helicopter to bring aid to communities affected by Cyclone Idai

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed a €250,000 contribution (US$284,414) from the European Union to help provide urgently-needed logistical support to the humanitarian response in the wake of the cyclone that has devastated eastern Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.

The funds, channelled through the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO, support the deployment of a UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) helicopter from Monday 25th March that will work to deliver much-needed assistance (medicine, shelter equipment, food and nutrition assistance) and transport of personnel to the areas of Chimanimani and Chipinge, the two most-affected districts.

“WFP is grateful to the European Union for its generous support to our recovery operations to address urgent logistical needs,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP Representative and Country Director. “Thanks to this timely contribution, WFP, along with the support of the Government of Zimbabwe and first responders, will be in a position to step up humanitarian relief to those areas worst-affected by Cyclone Idai.”

WFP plans to mount an emergency operation to provide food assistance to approximately 270,000 people in seven affected districts, including Chimanimani and Chipinge, for a period of three months, in coordination with partners’ efforts and existing Government interventions to mitigate the food deficit.

Following its landfall in Mozambique on 14 March, Cyclone Idai continued across land as a Tropical Storm and devastated eastern Zimbabwe with heavy rains and strong winds. The storm caused massive destruction. Roads and bridges, particularly in the district of Chimanimani, were washed away and communities left stranded. In Zimbabwe, some 250,000 people have been affected, and at least 154 deaths have been reported by the Government.

EU Ambassador Timo Olkkonen, who will visit the affected areas on Wednesday this week, said: “We believe that this helicopter will make a crucial difference to the difficult relief operations currently underway. The humanitarian teams are now able to reach the victims in the most remote areas, supply them with relief items, including medicines, shelter kits and hygiene packs, and to assist medical evacuation where needed. Flying into the affected areas will also help us gathering a better picture of the extent of damage and devastation and to coordinate further assistance.”

In 2018, ECHO contributed €200,000 (US$232,355) to WFP in support of a project to be implemented with the Zimbabwe Red Cross on building community resilience through disaster response management.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).

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