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UNHCR and partners rush aid to thousands in Mozambique after Tropical Cyclone Gombe

Briefing notes

UNHCR and partners rush aid to thousands in Mozambique after Tropical Cyclone Gombe

22 March 2022
Mozambique. Consequences of Cyclone Gombe to affected populations, particularly refugees, IDPs and host communities
Julienne, a Burundian refugee living in Maratane refugee settlement with her three children, in front of what used to be her house.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, alongside Mozambique’s government and humanitarian partners, is rushing to assist thousands of families affected by Tropical Cyclone Gombe, which made landfall in Nampula province on 11 March 2022 – destroying homes, flooding farmlands, and forcing people to flee in search of safety.

Gombe is the strongest storm to strike Mozambique since Cyclones Idai and Kenneth wreaked havoc in the spring of 2019, killing hundreds and displacing some 2.2 million people. Cyclone Gombe has hit Mozambique less than two months after Tropical Storm Ana, which made landfall in northern and central Mozambique on 24 January, affecting 180,869 people, injuring 207 and killing at least 38, mostly in Zambezia, Nampula and Tete provinces.

While the intensity and impact of Cyclone Gombe appear to be less severe than Idai and Kenneth, this category 4 storm brought fierce winds of up to 190km/h, intermittent rain and thunderstorms, damaging critical infrastructure and cutting power and communications in Nampula City, as well as in the nearby Maratane refugee settlement and sites hosting internally displaced people (IDPs) from Cabo Delgado province.

More than 380,000 people have been affected in Nampula province alone, according to local authorities, including tens of thousands of displaced people. They are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including shelter materials to rebuild homes that collapsed during the storm.

Among those affected were a Burundian refugee and single mother of three, who told UNHCR that her family had fled to a neighbour’s house in Maratane settlement after theirs was completely destroyed. A young man said his crops had been devastated by the storm, leaving him fearful that he would no longer be able to support himself and his family of four.

UNHCR is mobilizing urgently needed shelter and other essential items from its stockpiles to assist 62,000 refugees, IDPs and host community members.

Several basic infrastructure facilities were also damaged in the Maratane settlement – which hosts 9,300 refugees – such as the primary school, health centre, UNHCR warehouses, transit centre, and irrigation system. More funding is needed to ensure those repairs can be made so that basic services for refugees are not disrupted.  

As Protection Cluster lead agency, UNHCR and partners are visiting accommodation centres that host newly displaced families to assess their needs – ranging from shelter, food and healthcare to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA), as well as mental health and psychosocial support services needed due to the terrifying experience of the storm. In addition, we are working to provide IDPs with access to civil documentation, which many lost as they fled home.

Every region of the world is experiencing climate hazards. Cyclones and other storms are becoming more frequent and severe, floods are stronger, droughts are intensifying, and wildfires are becoming more devastating.

Human-induced climate change is accelerating, and already causing dangerous and widespread disruption to nature and people. Those with the least means to adapt are hardest hit, including refugees, internally displaced and stateless people. Women, children, older people, people with disabilities, and indigenous peoples are disproportionately affected. Over 80 per cent of refugees and internally displaced people come from the most climate-vulnerable countries worldwide.

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