In an interview with Al Jazeera, Lazarus Chakwera calls for international help after Cyclone Freddy struck twice, killing more than 300 people and displacing hundreds of thousands.
President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi has called on the international community to send urgent aid to the southern African country, which has been ravaged by storms that have killed more than 300 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
“We need immediate help,” he told Al Jazeera on Thursday from outside a camp in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial capital and one of the hardest hit regions. “We need helicopters now that [the storms have] cleared away a bit so we could airlift food and other equipment.
Tropical Cyclone Freddy hit the coast of southern Africa for the second time this weekend, wreaking havoc in Malawi and neighboring Mozambique. At least 326 people have been confirmed dead in Malawi, bringing the total number of deaths in the region to more than 400 since February.
Chakwera, who declared 14 days of mourning and pledged $1.5 million in aid, has now called for more help, saying the country’s ability to provide relief is limited.
“Climate change is real, and what we need to see is devastation,” the president said. “Thirteen months, three devastating cyclones. We try to do our best to get by [our] boot straps.”
As climate change causes warmer oceans, thermal energy from the water’s surface fuels stronger storms. Freddy broke the world record for the most accumulated cyclonic energy, a measure based on a storm’s wind strength over its lifetime. Meteorologists say it could break two more records.
Chakwera said recovering from such a storm cannot be done without international help. “What happens to us can happen to anyone, anywhere,” he said. “Let the world come to the aid of Malawi because we cannot afford to go backwards instead of forwards in terms of all the provisions that Malawians need.”
Rasmane Kabore, emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Blantyre, said the most pressing problem was the lack of clean water, which could cause a cholera-like outbreak following Cyclone Anna in the south of the country. last year.
In his interview with Al Jazeera, Chakwera agreed, calling for shelters, blankets and equipment that will help provide water and sanitation to the people because we don’t want another epidemic of water-borne diseases”.
Earlier on Thursday, Yusuf Nthenda, MP for Mulanje West, told Al Jazeera correspondent Fahmida Miller that the community had not yet received any aid and some of its constituents had nothing to eat.
In response, the president said his government had started providing aid but some communities were inaccessible because roads had been washed away by mudslides.
But “my goal and my desire is for everyone to be taken into account,” he said.