The United Kingdom (UK) has unveiled a £1 million (about K1.3 billion) aid package to support Malawi’s Cyclone Freddy response.
Acting British High Commissioner Sophia Willitts-King announced the donation when she welcomed UK’s International Search and Rescue (Isar) team at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe on Saturday evening.
The 27-member delegation arrived after an advanced rescue team of 13 flew into Malawi on Friday to strengthen the country’s efforts to rescue those still trapped in disaster spots after authorities reported that over 200 people are still missing.
Said Willitts-King: “The UK’s rapid support will help Malawi with its search and rescue efforts. The additional medical capacity will help Malawi’s hospitals save lives. We are providing temporary shelter to give families protection from the weather.
“We are also investing in equipment that will help people access clean water and sanitation facilities. This support is vital to prevent the spread of deadly diseases, including cholera.”
The envoy said the UK is saddened with the “tragic loss of life”, adding that “we stand side by side with Malawi in responding to this crisis”.
Willitts-King touted the Isar as a team of qualified personnel that recently helped search and rescue efforts in Turkey following that country’s massive earthquake devastation.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the UK High Commission to Malawi said the Isar has brought “lightweight, nimble boats and a drone team to help in the search for survivors of the floods”.
“These boats will be gifted to the Malawi Government for future emergency use when the UK Isar team departs,” reads the statement in part.
The emergency medical team (EMT), the statement said, will support hospitals in the Southern Region, the epicentre of destruction, to treat the victims.
“They will also join with an existing cholera-focussed UK EMT to help reduce the risk that the on going cholera outbreak gets worse following the floods,” the statement read further.
The UK, through the package, will provide emergency shelter to approximately 3 000 people and water filters to help 12 750 survivors to access clean water.
An hour before the British delegation arrived, two Tanzanian military helicopters landed at KIA also to support rescue efforts and deliver food and other humanitarian supplies to survivors affected by Cyclone Freddy.
The planes arrived with medical and military personnel.
Tanzanian High Commissioner Humphrey Polepole said one of the helicopters will be used to support the survivors while the other will be flying top government officials to the affected areas.
He added that Tanzania is sending cash and humanitarian supplies such as maize and mattresses valued at $1 million (about K1.1 billion).
Speaking when she welcomed both delegations, Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda said the assistance will help government to intensify its rescue and search efforts.
On his part, Malawi Defense Force (MDF) Commander Vincent Nundwe, who accompanied the minister, said he was relieved with the foreign search and rescue support, saying the MDF was overwhelmed by the scale of operations.
Meanwhile, the latest casualty rate in the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy shows that across the 13 affected districts, the death toll is now at 447 while the number of people reportedly missing is at 282.
The number of the displaced has almost doubled within days from 189 579 to 362 928 and these are being sheltered across 505 camps.