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Press Release

Cyclone Idai wreaks havoc in Zimbabwe; the IRC launches immediate emergency response

With tens of thousands of people impacted by Cyclone Idai and in need of assistance, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is on the ground in the hardest hit areas providing medical care, supplies, and kits for women.

  • Cyclone Idai made its way into Zimbabwe on Friday, March 15 causing massive flooding and landslides affecting tens of thousands of people;
  • The disaster is compounding an already dire situation with those living in the hardest hit areas facing severe food insecurity;
  • The IRC immediately launched an emergency response to assess the damage and deliver medical care and supplies, food and dignity kits to those in need;
  • The IRC continues to monitor the damage and is ready to scale up our response; however, it is urgent that international donors make emergency funding available to shore up a response commensurate with the needs.

As the effects of Cyclone Idai continue to wreak havoc in eastern Zimbabwe, the International Rescue Committee is responding in the hardest hit areas to address the massive need caused by the worst natural disaster so far of 2019. Cyclone Idai, which hit Zimbabwe on the evening of March 15, has caused massive flooding and landslides, forcing many Zimbabweans to flee their homes and seek higher ground to survive. Some areas have been cut off due to roads and bridges being swept away, and many who need help are unreachable by rescue and evacuation teams. Most of Chimanimani district is only accessible by helicopter, but poor weather conditions have hindered access since the start of the week. The IRC has deployed medical staff and supplies to Skyline in Chimanimani, where a mobile clinic has been set up to support those displaced by the disaster. The IRC is also supporting those displaced with food and kits for women.

Paolo Cernuschi, Zimbabwe Country Director at the International Rescue Committee, said,

“Our teams have been on the ground since Monday supporting the response in Chipinge, and are on standby with emergency supplies to immediately deliver assistance to the most affected district Chimanimani as soon as access is restored. While immediate life saving support is the most pressing need, the impact of this cyclone will continue to be severe in the coming weeks and months. We are expecting the situation to worsen and to see a surge in malaria and other water borne diseases. Further, this disaster compounds an already dire situation as the hardest hit areas were facing severe food insecurity and economic hardships prior to the cyclone. Whatever crops that were being grown despite the drought have now been destroyed in the floods, and these districts will need the help of the international community now more than ever.

The impact of this disaster can not be underestimated and will require our attention for many months to come. While we are doing what we can to reach those in need, we need a major injection of emergency funding to be able to scale up our response.”

The IRC began working in Zimbabwe in 2008 to respond to the devastating cholera outbreak and has since significantly scaled up our programming to work with local communities to improve sanitation, access to clean water, safe delivery for pregnant women, and livelihood opportunities and improved agriculture for farmers.

To download images of the impact of Cyclone Idai and the IRC’s response, click here.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.