Operational update on Cyclone Kenneth: Reaching communities cut off from aid

15 May 2019
Operational update on Cyclone Kenneth: Reaching communities cut off from aid
Ibo Island, Mozambique. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Christoph Hanger

As days of rain, flood-waters and high winds from Cyclone Kenneth recede, the catastrophic destruction left behind is becoming clearer.

Tens of thousands of people are homeless and little remains in many communities where homes, schools, businesses and places of worship once stood. In order to support communities reeling from the impact of Cyclone Kenneth in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Mozambique Red Cross Society to provide assistance.

“As our teams reach communities flattened and destroyed by high winds and rain, we are deeply concerned about the urgent humanitarian needs that families face. We are distributing items such as tarpaulins, sleeping mats and kitchen sets to help alleviate residents’ suffering,” said Hannah Matthews, who is leading the ICRC’s relief efforts from Pemba, Mozambique.


Humanitarian concerns

  • Tens of thousands of people have been left homeless by the storm. Even as the water levels go down, many communities are still stranded and living completely exposed to the elements. Houses were flattened, roofs were yanked off their homes, trees snapped in half in the middle of communities and belongings washed and blown away.
  • There is an urgent need for shelter, water, food and other supplies in Pemba city as well as Macomia, Quissanga and Ibo districts, where some communities have been largely cut-off after the storm destroyed key infrastructure.
  • A cholera outbreak confirmed a week after Cyclone Kenneth struck further intensifies the vulnerability communities in Cabo Delgado face. The authorities and humanitarian community have rapidly begun to address this, however the scale of the outbreak and its possible impact remain unknown.
  • The destruction of key roads, bridges, and other infrastructure makes it complicated for humanitarian agencies to access communities. We are also closely monitoring the evolution of the situation to ensure that our teams of aid workers can safely access and assist communities that urgently need support.


Operational notes

  • Teams are being deployed from the ICRC’s office in Pemba, Mozambique. Distributions of relief supplies started and will continue for the coming month with communities receiving blankets, tarpaulins, and kitchen sets. So far we have assisted 978 families (about 4,900 people) in Pemba City, Matemo Island and Macomia Sede, and we are planning further distributions.
  • Staff are working with volunteers from the Mozambique Red Cross Society to set up systems to reconnect separated family members. This includes registering details of people who are missing and offering free phone calls for people to get in touch with their loved ones to let them know they are safe.
  • The ICRC is coordinating and working closely with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Mozambique Red Cross Society in implementing its humanitarian assistance efforts to rapidly reach as many of the affected communities as possible.
  • The ICRC set up an office in Pemba, Mozambique in September 2018 to address the humanitarian consequences of the armed violence there since October 2017. The ICRC has been carrying out regular visits to places of detention in and around Pemba city since then. These visits are carried out after access was authorized by the Mozambican authorities. Cyclone Kenneth’s landfall came as the ICRC was preparing to increase its response to the humanitarian needs caused by armed violence in Cabo Delgado province.


For further information, please contact:

Khatija Nxedlana, ICRC Mozambique, +258 87 7625880, knxedlana@icrc.org

Tendayi Sengwe, ICRC Pretoria, +27 66 4764446, tsengwe@icrc.org

Crystal Wells, ICRC Nairobi, +254 716 897265, cwells@icrc.org