Paidamoyo Chipunza, Harare Bureau
UNITED Nations (UN) assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief co-ordinator, Ms Ursula Mueller, is in Zimbabwe to assess the response to Tropical Cyclone Idai, which made a landfall and claimed lives in Manicaland three months ago.
Cyclone Idai also destroyed infrastructure in the province.
Ms Mueller, who arrived in Southern Africa on June 5 on a seven-day assessment mission of the response to effects of Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, will also assess other humanitarian challenges affecting all the countries hit by the weather phenomenon.
UN communications specialist Mr Sirak Gebrehiwot yesterday said in Zimbabwe, Ms Mueller, who will be in the country from June 8-10, 2019, will also assess response to drought.
“She is expected to visit Chimanimani where she will have focus group discussions with selected victims of Cyclone Idai.
“She will also tour damaged residential sites and witness some of the response activities by UN Agencies in selected areas,” he said.
Mr Gebrehiwot said Ms Mueller is also scheduled to meet President Mnangagwa in Harare and several other high ranking Government officials that include Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Sekai Nzenza and ambassadors.
After the Zimbabwe tour, Ms Mueller will proceed to Malawi.
According to the UN, about three million people were affected by Cyclone Idai across the three countries.
“While reconstruction efforts are underway, acute humanitarian needs remain. The mission (by Ms Mueller) aims to raise awareness, mobilise additional resources and galvanise international support for the ongoing response,” said the UN in a statement.
Prior to her current role as assistant secretary-general, Ms Mueller spent over 30 years working in international affairs, global issues and development financing.
In April, the UN and humanitarian community launched an appeal requesting for US$ 60 million to provide support to 270 000 people affected by Cyclone Idai. The response as at 27 May stood at 45 percent, thus US$ 27 million.
In addition to the effects of Cyclone Idai, the country is also grappling with severe drought that has affected an estimated 5,3 million people. Again, the UN and humanitarian partners appealed for US$234 million targeting to assist at least 2,2 million food insecure communities bringing the total humanitarian need for Zimbabwe to US$ 294 million targeting a total population in need of assistance to 2.47 million for both Cyclone Idai and drought.