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The BBC's Ben Brown reports
"Much of the land is under water"
 real 28k

Graca Machel talks to the BBC's Greg Barrow
"Suddenly we are taken back again: it is very sad"
 real 28k

Friday, 25 February, 2000, 03:58 GMT
Machel backs Mozambique appeal

Mozambicans disembark after crossing the Limpopo
Crossing the Limpopo is a precarious business


Mozambique's former First Lady Graša Machel has warned that the recent flooding may have set the country's development back by decades.

She said she had been shocked and saddened by the devastation. And, while paying tribute to the international community's response to the disaster, she expressed concern that the aid would start to disappear once the floodwaters began to recede.

It was then that the country would have to begin rebuilding roads, bridges, railways and water sanitation systems, she said.

Graca Machel Graca Machel: shocked
Graša Machel, who was wife of the country's post-independence president and is now married to Nelson Mandela, has been one of Mozambique's foremost ambassadors since the country emerged from civil war in 1992.

It remains one of the poorest countries in the world, and the government has warned that the economy will be crippled if financial help is not forthcoming once the clean-up and repair operation begins.

Aid pledged by the international community has so far centred on the immediate needs of the population, who are currently being threatened by more floodwaters, brought by swollen rivers flowing in from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa.

Earlier this week, tropical Cyclone Eline hit Mozambique's central provinces - only a few days after floods devastated the south. A substantial part of the country remains under water.

But United Nations agencies say food is reaching those most in need and, although cases of malaria have risen, there are so far no reports of a feared cholera outbreak.

Long-term impact

The government is asking for $63.5m for aid in rebuilding vital infrastructure destroyed by the flooding, in addition to the $13m requested by the UN for emergency assistance.

A boy unloads aid delivered by the French Air Force Air lifts are taking supplies to isolated areas
Some 300,000 people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. At least 150 people have died since the rains started in January, and more than 800,000 people have been affected.

Aid workers say the devastation is far worse than anything Mozambique suffered during its 16 years of civil war.

Mozambican Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao told the BBC that important roads, bridges and power lines had to be repaired quickly across the country.

He said the authorities urgently needed to distribute food and medicines to people living in the worst affected provinces.

Botswana alert

Botswana's President Festus Mogae has put the country on full alert, as the storms head towards the normally arid region.

Emergency measures include the evacuation of areas at risk from flooding.

Botswana is still trying to cope with the effects of last week's rains, in which part of the country received 75% of its average annual rainfall in three days.

In Zimbabwe, government minister John Nkomo spoke of a "trail of destruction" as the cyclone passed over the east and south of the country.

"Bridges are down, homes have been swept away, fields are washed out and a number of small dams have collapsed," Mr Nkomo said. Air lifts are taking supplies to isolated areas

Zimbabwe was barely touched by the first floods, which swept across the region more than a week ago.

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See also:
24 Feb 00 |  Africa
Mozambique's economic hopes washed away
24 Feb 00 |  Africa
Mozambique: How disaster unfolded
23 Feb 00 |  Africa
Mozambique: Worst still to come
24 Feb 00 |  Africa
Appeal for Mozambique aid
22 Feb 00 |  Africa
Fears rise for homeless villagers
11 Feb 00 |  Africa
Africa's flood misery
21 Feb 00 |  Africa
Mozambique's floods: In pictures

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