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Chakwera declares State of Disaster

President Lazarus Chakwera has declared a State of Disaster in the Southern Region following the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.

Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen Zamba said in a statement yesterday the President “has noted with grave concern” the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddy in most districts in the Southern Region.

Reads the statement in part: “In view of this, His Excellency has exercised the powers vested in him under Section 32(1) of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act (Cap 33:05 of the Laws of Malawi) and declared a State of Disaster in the Southern Region of Malawi.”

Exercised hispowers: Chakwera

The declaration covers Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Thyolo, Phalombe and Zomba districts.

Zamba said government is already responding to the emergencies, rendering urgent assistance to all affected districts.

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital through its health cluster for Emergency Room is calling for more assistance, including additional 40 nurses, 20 clinicians and other medical supplies such as body bags, blankets, blood pressure machines, gloves, buckets wheelchairs, cotton rolls bandages and syringes.

The Hindu Community in Blantyre last evening prepared meals for 1 000 of the affected people in Blantyre City living in camps while St Pius Parish of the Catholic Church offered its multipurpose hall to host displaced persons.

Earlier yesterday, some commentators urged government to declare the State of Disaster to help mobilise financial and humanitarian resources for the victims.

Human rights activist Gift Trapence in an interview urged government to move with speed by declaring a State of Disaster, arguing that it was only after doing that that support may quickly follow from development partners and well-wishers.

He said the number of affected families was likely to shoot as the storm was also threatening to hit the Central Region, according to weather reports.

Another governance and human rights advocate Undule Mwakasungula, while concurring with Trapence on the declaration of a State of Disaster, observed that government ought to have done more in preparing Malawians for the disaster.

He described the crisis as devastating, saying the nation was forewarned and maximum preparedness was important and necessary.

On his part, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency executive director Willy Kambwandira said there was need for effective coordination to allocate resources.

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