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Sunday, 5 March, 2000, 12:31 GMT
Mozambique: Is the world doing enough?
As Mozambique is hit by the worst floods it has faced in 50 years, has the world failed to act?
Comments received before the programme went on air are published on this page.
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A selection of your emails will also be broadcast on Focus on Africa during the 1705 edition on Saturday. I feel the world should respond as much as possible to this logistically difficult disaster. The weak response shows a lack of compassion on the part of the world community. As individuals, we could send at least a little money to the International Red Cross and designate it for the fund for the Mozambique flooding. If many people send in at least a few dollars, it can make a huge impact.
Terry Guild, USA
Seems like global warming to me. We in the developed world have increased the likelihood of these disasters with our pollution. We should be "paying reparations" not "giving aid". I belong to the Pollution Tax Association. We pay extra "taxes" on our fuel use and send them to charities to help with cases like this. (Of course we don't really give enough but it's a start.)
Geoff Beacon, UK
Just one comment, why not donate some of the Lottery profit from this week?
Paul Taylor, UK
I don't think that people are doing enough for Mozambique or the rest of the Third World. If countries didn't spend so much on weapons or cancelled World Debt we would be better able to help.
Marie Cashman, Ireland
Mozambique needs all the aid and assistance the world can offer. This should not be debated just as aid to other European or Latin American countries who found themselves in similar situations were not debated
Cosmas Erhabor, Canada
To all the westerners criticising your own countries for not doing enough: what are you personally doing about it? After all, even if you live in a council flat, you're a millionaire by African standards. Evidently you'd rather just preach and carp and criticise.
Alex Chiang, Australia
It is really pathetic that the international community responds to African catastrophes only when they have grown out of hand. After watching and hoping that the floods in Mozambique will recede, the international community came in only after realising that this is a real disaster. Why does the international community have to wait until Africans suffer to the extreme before coming to their aid often with too little too late. We saw it in Sierra Leone and Sudan and now in Mozambique.
Since there were grim weather forecasts, this crisis could have been minimised by putting in place logistics for quick evacuation of the vulnerable. It is a shame for the international community that innocent lives are put in danger in totally unnecessary and preventable circumstances. Since The West is partially responsible for the abject poverty of Africa due to colonial exploitation, it is only morally right that in such trying moments aid is provided and fast. Not when it has claimed many lives.
Sheriff Abba Drammeh., New York , United States.
Many commentators from the western nations are quite eager to discuss and critique the socio-political predicament of numerous African countries. As interesting as this topic might be for another time, the reality is that there is a frighteningly urgent situation in Mozambique, and the world has been dreadfully slow to respond. Whatever the shortcomings of the Mozambique government, they can hardly serve to absolve us of the responsibility we share as fellow human beings.
It is simply criminal not to care when one has the means to help. Some of the contributors refer to opinions such as mine as "western guilt". Quite on the contrary, I am merely advocating the support for the human values which we claim to hold so dear. The notion that aid was delayed due to a quarrel between the governmental ministries demonstrates a vulgar and cavalier attitude to the existing emergency. We should either do something or stop pretending.
The amount of self-flagellation by British citizens in this debate is as nauseating as the criticism of people like the South African President's spokesperson, who has been justifying the reason the SA government turned away plane loads of Royal Marines, equipment and relief. I AGREE that the UK and European response has been slow, although the logistics must be mind-boggling. Before we get into an argument about the West standing around while Mozambicans die, let's look at the contribution of countries with highly developed militaries which are hugely closer than Europe, who to my knowledge have done nothing.
India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt? Can it be true that the governments of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana, Kenya and other nearby African states have no access to troop-carrying helicopters? Just one from each would have helped... As more people die in Mozambique, the world needs to examine its conscience and assess its speed of response. None more so than relatively well-equipped nations on the periphery of the disaster who sit around doing nothing and waiting for relief to arrive from the far ends of the earth and then dare to question the manner in which it arrived.
Our western military forces are a huge resource both of equipment and trained personnel. Maintained (essentially) at great daily expense to deter attack and defend us. What better training is there than real life, real time crises? For them to be seen to have the logistical ability and expertise to mobilise rapidly and effectively to deal with humanitarian crises anywhere in the world can only enhance their deterrent effectiveness.
This is valid and valuable 'spend' for any military. The public supports this use of their military. What seems to be missing is governmental will.
Here we all sit enjoying the luxuries of modern Western life, while hundreds of thousands cling to a hope of rescue, survival, and while many others perish in the floodwaters. I first heard about the heavy rains in Southern Africa three weeks ago - the warning signs were there, the pleas for help were there, but once again it takes pictures of disaster, huge numbers of dead before the West, the UK and USA, decide to provide relief.
Chris Homann, England ex South Africa
Mr Kofi Annan, close your eyes and picture a mother with a baby strapped at the back being washed away by the floods.
It is heartbreaking to watch so many people in such a desperate situation for so long with so little help. I think it is unacceptable that much of the world has reacted so slowly to a disaster of this magnitude. And it hurts to know that there are people who cannot understand that Mozambique desperately needs help.
On the positive side, this disaster has once more brought to light some of the great love that man has for fellow man. Who could believe just a decade ago that the South African airforce would play such a humanitarian role in another African country? Like their fellow countrymen (Mandela & De Klerk), the South African airforce deserves recognition.
Denis Nkweteyim, Cameroonian, USA
A lot of my fellow Africans have been quick to condemn the developed world for their slow response to the crisis in Mozambique. We have no right to accuse anyone. After all, apart from a few countries like South Africa, Botswana and Malawi, what has Africa done to help Mozambique?
Until we in Africa learn to be our brothers' keeper we should not be quick to condemn others.
Tope Olukemi, UK
Believe me or not I watch the people of Mozambique and cry. This can happen to any country in the world. As a Ghanaian, I'm ashamed that Ghana hasn't been able to provide helicopters or personnel. I know we don't have much, but we have enough to save a soul.
This is a wake up call for the WEST to give Africa an equal attention as it has given to the rest of the world. The WEST has wrong attitude about Africa. Thanks to UK and USA for doing their best. Their help may be a bit late but better than none. May God be with Mozambique.
Kofi Obeng, Ghana/USA
I would like to respond to Jon Livesey's Article about Mozambique acting as if it is helpless. Jon's remarks about my country's neighbour are not justified at all. This is matter of life and death which does not require any delays. We are talking about people are living on tree-tops with no food, warmth and shelter.
Jon has to realise that Mozambique had sixteen and not ten years to organise one and not two liberation struggle (not civil war) against colonialism. The civil war in Mozambique was not organised by the Mozambicans but by apartheid South Africa as a act of destabilisation not only in Mozambique but in most of the Southern African countries.
If Jon feels that the Westerners are wasting their resources by sending help to Mozambique then that statement is inhumane because what Mozambique and Zimbabwe are facing is disaster which needs urgent attention and not ten years.
Nikki Masangomai, Zimbabwe
We learn in Africa that Nature can't be beaten but survived.
Abdinasir Mohamed, Somalia
What should International Community do? To be blunt, I do not believe that westerners are interested in helping Africa. Africa should learn this lesson at once and organise itself to provide, as one said, "African solutions to African problems".
Adelino Muchnaga, Mozambican studying in UK.
For how long will our countries continue to look up to the western world in times like these? All African states united could at least do something about this catastrophe. All that useless people like our president can do is assist in a war which is responsible for killing thousands of people in the DRC.
It's really sad to see all those people clinging on to tree branches while the rest of the privileged world is watching in the comfort of their homes pretending to be sympathising. I'm talking of people who know can afford to do something about this disaster.
Denver Mahara, Zimbabwe in the UK
I have been seeing all the news about my country, and it is with a pity that after several years of civil war Mozambique has been recovering itself slowly with many aid. Now the belief that we could make it was washed away.
I want to join them now and support all of them who are suffering now from floods and say please do not give in. We can make it.
I am far away so maybe I cannot do much but at least I can feel. I am with my people. Thank you for all support from UK, from US, France, Malawi, South Africa and other countries. Thank very very much.
Alice Madeira, UK, Mozambican
Yet another chance for a corrupt government to hold out the begging bowl whilst the citizens of the country die. Western countries can pour as much aid as they want into Mozambique but the truth is that the government had failed to plan for a crisis such as this, instead choosing to buy other necessities such as Learjets for the politbureau and AK47s to keep them in power.
I'm sure the politicians will be most grateful when they have been pulled out of the lurch again. At least it didn't happen in Zimbabwe otherwise it would have been blamed on the white farmers.
The Government are very full of their own praise for the cash they've now donated and the help they are sending out. But why the Hell has it taken so long to react to the crisis. I simply don't accept that it takes this long to organise the relief effort - our helicopters and the army / rescue organisations should have been out there a long time ago. Perhaps if the country was supplying us with oil, the Government would have reacted quicker...
Jeremy Whinnett, England
You can't win for losing in this World. Last week all I read from Africans was for the West (USA) to keep the hell out of Africa. Now I heard oh please send us your money, help us.
As I recall during Zimbabwe's struggle for independence, It was Mozambique that helped us. Had it not been for them, who knows if we would have been independent today. But, how appalling is it to know that Zimbabwe has chosen not to do anything to help with the floods. The entire Cabinet of Zimbabwe should be ashamed. Of all the help we can possible manage to give, Mozambique should definitely be a priority, and not DRC.
Muriel, Zimbabwean Living in USA,
I am just sick and tired of 'weeping child scenario' in Africa. At the time of Noah, flood consumed all but himself and members of his family who took refuge in an ark built in readiness for the flood. This story has two dimensions to it, first preparation and secondly back up plan. China, USA had similar problems and were prepared with back up plans and after flood programmes.
In the Caribbean's it was a 'weeping child scenario' and now Mozambique. I am curious to know what the government of Mozambique was doing at the build up to this terrible disaster and how they intend to cope at subsidence so as to make sure that they will be better prepared in the future. Mozambique is an independent country and should handle this problem with dignity.
The disaster in Mozambique has shamed us all! We have enough shame to go around, but if you and your kids are hanging on a tree or roof-top for a week, you hope and pray that some one comes to your rescue, some one! To wait for African leaders does not make sense, because South Africa is all the African leadership there is and they are overwhelmed! Please help, everybody!
Its a pity that when it comes to issues of Africa, things are taken so slowly. I would expect the authorities in the secretariat of UN to make a rapid response to such issues. This is a very big problem which has come to us all. What I want to say is: We should not wait for the president of Mozambique to make a plea for the world to react. Let's work as one in time of peace and trouble. I expected SADC to react accordingly too as a group ie making a declaration on the approach. Thanks for other countries which have already started like South Africa and Malawi just to mention a few.
Jeremiah Chimoka, Malawi
Mozambique pays back $1.4 million each week in debt repayment. If we are more proactive in our help rather than just reactive, then surely this will help more? Cancel the debts. All of them.
In reply to Eddie of USA - I must just say that I did not mean that we should all be taxed another 1% above what we are paying. I meant that 1% of all taxes already collected (and often wasted on useless spending) by each country should be handed over to such a fund. That way each country would contribute 1% of already collected tax money into such a fund. I agree that most people already pay high enough taxes - especially in Belgium which is well known for its extremely high taxes and wasteful government spending!
Margaret Carre, Belgium
It's interesting to see this disaster seized on as yet another excuse for self-flagellation by Westerners. Mozambique managed to organize itself to raise not one but two rival rebel armies. It managed to organize the supply of arms, ammunition and transport for 10 solid years of civil war. It managed to organize the conscription of hundreds of thousands of civilians, many children, to man its armies and fight its civil wars. These are organizational skills of a very high order, albeit directed at highly self- destructive ends. And now that there is a natural disaster, Mozambique behaves as though it is totally helpless, and westerners run around claiming it's all our fault. When will we learn? Westerners and the Third World have a co-dependent relationship, and a very nasty and destructive one it's turning out to be.
Jon Livesey, USA
I don't know why Egypt didn't send much until now! Its probably capable of supplying all the helicopters and equipment needed on its own! Not just Egypt but all African countries which didn't send should hang their heads in shame!
While I agree that the Western rescue operation has thus far been inadequate, I think that one aspect of this tragic affair has been remarkable. Who would have thought ten years ago, during the dark days of apartheid, that young Afrikaner pilots would be risking their lives to save Mozambican flood victims? Perhaps there is cause for hope.
Ian Cooper, UK
I think it's time that the Organisation of African Unity defines its roles. And it's certain that this new generation, seing Africans helping other Africans in need, would develop self confidence and a sense of altruism amongst us. I cannot believe that African states can continue to play the role of indifferent observer (with the exception of South Africa to this problem in Mozambique) when not long ago Africa was ready to align with the USA in the Gulf War - for their own means. I don't blame the West because I still believe that every country in Africa can help in someway, even it's a little, towards the rescue of the Mozambicans. I'm sure too we could solve this problem by ourselves if our leaders weren't so selfish about what they could gain from this. Helping ourselves will make every single African proud and will show our independence from the West which seems to entertain its audiences with footage of disasters in Africa and very little of the positive advance!
Elhage Yade, Senegal
When Mark Thatcher went missing, the UK deployed army and airforce troops yet when a million people are in dire need of military assistance, the UK "partly" funds the deployment of five S African helicopters. Where do our labour politicians leave their socialist morals once they are elected? It's a disgrace. The USA are always the first to contribute towards high profile warfare but the last to send in troops to areas where humanitarian aid is desperately needed.
SeŠn Doyle, Portugal
I am perturbed by the way our African leaders tend to always take a back seat and wait for assistance from the western world. Is there a good reason why they are not out in Mozambique doing the little they can. At least by trying to portray good neighbourliness could result in the much needed help from the west in more sophisticated items. My heart goes to SA Government, their Airforce and to the Prime Minister of Mauritius for his quick response to assist financially. As for the rest of the African countries I ask: Are your helicopters and military expenses only good for parading during the national holidays? Is this not a shame? Where does this leave you when fate strikes and the west is too tired to come to your aid? Charity begins at home, so the saying goes.
Rose Murathi, Mauritius
I cannot believe Mr Hargreaves' comments about the African States. What a disgusting racist attitude at a time when hundreds of thousands of people are dying in front of the world's media. I do not deny that some of the African countries do spend millions of dollars on weapons to go out and kill each other. However, I hardly think that Mozambique can be put in this category bearing in mind that they have suffered over 15 years of civil war and have struggled desperately to re-build their country and their lives. Have you ever been to Mozambique Mr Hargreaves and seen the poverty that these people live in? I think not, because there could not possibly be a single human being on this earth that could fail to be touched by the poverty that affects these people and how they survive on little more than their love for their families and children and what little produce they can grow on small patches of dirt.
Alison Dunk, UK - ex Mozambique
I am saddened by the snail pace of response from the developed countries. Had this disaster occurred in Europe or elsewhere in the developed world - the response would have been lightning fast.
On the other hand I am ashamed at being a Zimbabwean as Mozambique is a very close neighbour, and we have failed to respond quickly to the plight of our brothers and sisters across the border. Of course we cannot help as all our helicopters, transport aircraft and a large chunk of our army are in the DRC.
Let it also be known to the world that at least 60 people have died and around 100,000 have been displaced from their homes as a result of flooding from the effects of Cyclone Elin in Zimbabwe's Manicaland, Masvingo and Matebeland South Provinces.
We are trying to help ourselves and corporate bodies and individuals are contributing tremendously in cash and kind to the fund set up to alleviate the plight of our fellow countrymen.
Walter Mungofa, Zimbabwe
One forgets -we do not have that many helicopters because OUR health, education and welfare is more important than THEIR lives. Nor do we have any transport aircraft to get them there because EU rules said we could not buy them off the shelf from the US. Meanwhile the hysteria appears to demand super-human efforts to move sufficient resources many thousands of miles to remote areas in a couple of days - might as well charter all of BA's Concordes, rip out their innards to carry cargo and shuttle them between London and Mopotu carrying bits of helicopter to be reassembeled there. The only way to soften the blow of such disasters is to encourage the African states themselves to make contingency plans and pool their resources.
Firstly I'd like to apologise on behalf of the government of Swaziland who have not contributed any aid to our neighbour Mozambique. We may not have any helicopters but we could have sent blankets, food and medicine. Shame on our government!! When cyclone Damoina hit us 15 years ago we called for help and South Africa came, now we turn our backs on our neighbours.
Secondly, I can't bear to watch the news any more. It is terrible to see people hanging on for dear life waiting in desperation. Where are the helicopters that they need NOW? South Africa is doing as much as it can. Where is the foreign aid? If this was happening to Europeans I know that hundreds of helicopters would have been found. Yet again Africans are being left to die by the indifferent West. I appeal for everyone to send what you can to Mozambique.
Aleta Armstrong, Swaziland
If the natural disaster in Mozambique were a civil war or politically motivated, one would see the so-called western blocks struggling to arm the various faction with deadly weapons to kill human beings. The UN, USA, BRITAIN, FRANCE, etc have so far been disappointing in their relief efforts. That's sheer hypocrisy.
Joe Kwabena Adjaka, Ghana
As a UK national I am deeply embarrassed by our lack of support to Mozambique: why are we waiting to send helicopters? An appeal for blankets is all very good, but surely our lovely Leader Tony should demand that helicopters are sent immediately, and yes I agree why not take the cameras off the helicopters to give valuable space to people who are desperate to be rescued.
Debbie Hughes-Morris, UK
Just for the record Mozambique is not a country of Africans who will not help themselves. From independence (1975) to 1979 Mozambique invested in education and preventive health above any other expenditure, receiving awards from many international organizations and teaching more people to read and write than the Portuguese had done during their entire presence in the country. There was a civil war for 16 years, for which the Ian Smith government in Rhodesia and the apartheid government in South Africa is greatly responsible for fuelling. Since the peace agreements in 1992, Mozambique has organized two democratic elections, improved its economy to the point that last year it had the fastest growing economy in the world and this year the crops would have ensured it would be a self sufficient country in food production. The flood has now taken back the country at least 30 years.
There is also the issue of who is to blame for the natural disasters now occurring in Mozambique. If I am not mistaken these are consequences of the greenhouse effect and global warming caused above all by the pollution of the so called developed world.
Ana Brum, Mozambican in Portugal
I agree that it is time that the African communities start trying to support themselves and their neighbours. But at this point and time when African countries are finding it difficult to take care of their own, this a thought that should not be brought up. . For Mozambique, a country that has been in a severe economic crisis and civil war for the past 10 years, we need to give it support from every angle. I urge countries, western countries, to supply the most they can because they can afford to do so.
The perishing of the people of my beautiful country continues. Especially, for those in the countryside who have suffered already the most during a war that was not theirs. Surely, the international community is reacting too late or even not at all. Over and over again I get the feeling that the lives of Africa's resource-poor are not counted.
JuJu (Mozambican), Thailand
Africans will attain self-respect only when they can manage their own internal affairs and the vicious cycle of their tragedies can only be broken by Africans themselves, not the powerful rich club of Western nations.
Tajudeen Isiaka, Nigeria
There are no political considerations to be taken into account, just a simple, desperate request from a country that is unable to help itself; their entire army has ONE helicopter. It is a request that many western nations could fulfil alone. As a community we have no excuse.
My country's response has been incredulous; helicopters on standby?! Are they waiting for 1000 to die first or just a big enough public outcry? Our response so far has been pathetic.
John Bicknell, UK
Thank you to the world's media for bringing the Mozambique disaster to our attention, but would now not be a good time to offload all the camera equipment from the rescue helicopters to make space for the victims?
Jason March, UK
So, Paul Hargreaves reckons the UK has enough problems of its own to deal with. Perhaps, Mr Hargreaves should spend some time living in a 'third' world country, then he'll realise that the so-called 'problems' of most UK citizens are paltry by comparison. Moreover, while it is true to say that the likes of Mugabe have been spending vast amounts of loans on armaments, who is it that has been happy to supply them? Western arms manufacturers with the backing of their governments, particularly Britain. The £3m worth offered by the UK government to Mozambique is both too little too late.
Alex Cutelli, UK
As an ex member of the South African army I can only say what sterling work the SAAF are doing. Its worth bearing in mind that South Africa as the only reasonably developed country in the region are contributing a lot more than a few helicopters. In financial terms this will cost South Africa more than any other country. I wish therefore people would stop bleating about Africa not helping itself.
The cost in human life is the important issue however, why is it taking the UK and the US so long to react? Does everything else pale into insignificance when the US is running elections ?Is this crisis even news in the US?
Simon Lewis, UK ex SA
I feel that if Mozambique had oil or something else to offer then the global powers would be helping with whatever was necessary with no questions asked. What about peoples lives is that not the most important reason?
Steve McLeod, Scotland
I think it is appalling the lack of immediate help that has been given to the stranded people. If we take for example an avalanche in the Alps where people are in immediate need of help we strive to get those people rescued as soon as possible, why can't we adopt this attitude to Mozambique? Every delay more people die, it's as if we value the life of Africans as less than those in Europe.
Tony Blair keeps talking about how he wants Britain to be a beacon in the world, well he has missed an opportunity to show this. Send those helicopters now. Even if they only get there in time to save a dozen lives then it would have been worth it.
Tom Moorhouse, UK
Its a shame all round. Even African leaders could have helped but they have chosen to concentrate on their personal/national issues. As neighbours we definitely should have done something. I also feel ashamed that as a Zambian we had to open our spill gates at Kariba already knowing that Mozambique is facing such a tragedy. We have contributed to the increase of water knowingly or unknowingly. I am not sure if Zambians have been ignorant of the amount of tragedy this would have caused.
Catherine Mwanza, Zambia
It is now clear that the so-called International community and the donor agencies put their money where their mouth is. I mean, if was a country rich in minerals and precious diamonds and gold, there wouldn't be any need to request for aid. Automatically, those who know they would benefit would come in. True, Mozambique is facing such a crisis, and it is also well known for assisting countries like DR. CONGO with its powerful military, why can't the rich Congo do something too for it? Should you still wait for another country to help your friend when it is in such trouble? Kabila please do something.
Akello Grace, Uganda
As a Namibian, I am truly ashamed that my country can afford to send our tiny army to fight in the DRC, for a cause that has yet to be clearly articulated, but has not yet been reported to have sent a single helicopter to help our neighbours in Mozambique with this horrific disaster. I hope I am mistaken and that we are in fact involved in the rescue efforts.
Moses W. Haimbodi, Namibia
Money, money, money that is what is needed for the aid to Mozambique. For international rescue the plan must have money. USA commitment can be in resource of equipment for rescue of lives, then the rescue of the country. Certainly the plan is to rescue the country from disaster and rebuild the lives of those who have suffered.
Catharine Hannover, Reno, Nevada/USA
$13 million dollars is less than the cost of one cruise missile. Between us, the rich countries of the world could pay this relatively paltry sum to help the people of Mozambique. I have believed for some time now that a standing disaster recovery 'army' needs to be created, where people in certain professions are trained to turn their skills to help in disaster zones around the world. It would help co-ordinate rescue services with a pre-formed action plan. To keep costs down it could be organised like the Territorial Army, with part time volunteers, paid only for training exercises and actual disaster situations. ONE rich country could afford to do this. Several rich countries could do it with style. If all UN countries got involved it could be spectacular at almost negligible costs to the participating nations. I would be pleased if some of my taxes were used to fund this and I would volunteer to join.
Christopher Hollett, Wales UK
This is another issue that highlights the need for a global strategy to act in cases like this, like a global welfare state. Their blood is on all our hands.
Dave Voce, England
The responds so far to the Mozambican flood crisis and other recent crisis in the African continent, should be a wake up call to our leaders and all African for that matter, that under the eyes of the international community, African lives are worth less than others. We should respond by making initiatives for ourselves and tap into our own resources.
What I find difficult to comprehend is the lack of respond from within the continent apart from South Africa, to provide helicopters. Africa has repeatedly been ignored and failed by the international community. The disparity of respond to events in other parts of the world is a clear indication. But we should not despair, we should learn from it particularly our leaders to begin to make some contingency plans, so that we can look after our selves. We ought to realise that, racism is a significant element in the way the international community respond to events and crisis.
Musa Bah, Gambian in UK
I am surprised at Mr Charles from Kuwait's assessment of the situation. Would it have been wise to ask Arab alone countries to liberate Kuwait? You say black Africa alone should help in the rescue of other black Africans. Did you have the same sentiments when a fellow Arab nation invaded your land? Were you rescued by Arab states? These people need help, they are not claiming any entitlement. Helping others is simply an act of human decency and I expect the Kuwaitis to appreciate that perhaps more than anyone else.
My family and I were lucky enough to spend the past two years living and working in Mozambique. We now watch this horror unfold and cannot believe that the 'civilised' world can allow these people to suffer in this way. On tonight's news we hear that the UK government are sending a reconnaissance team and have helicopters on stand-by.....can they not see already that these people do not need more onlookers they need help and they need it now!!! The Government could manage to send hundreds of troops to the Gulf at the drop of a hat, all in the name of humanitarian assistance, but then if Kuwait grew only cashew nuts I don't suppose there would have been such a rush.
Alison Dunk, UK - ex Mozambique
I am thoroughly ashamed to belong to a society where geographical distance allows us to ignore the pleas of our fellow human beings. We are part of a GLOBAL community where borders and race should not be used as an excuse to sit and twiddle our thumbs whilst people are starving to death in trees. It is a very sad fact that if the floods were in Europe the rescue efforts would be overwhelming.
We British tend to ignore the problems in Africa and keep them at arms length, but when it boils down to it, Europe colonised and raped the great continent and we should help them when their poorly developed infrastructure can't. It is the western society we live in that has caused the pollution leading to the extreme weather conditions Africa and other parts of the world is facing. We should take responsibility for our actions.
Catherine Ball, UK
If it wasn't for the TV crews then the tragedy in Mozambique would have been ignored internationally. We have simply been shamed into a response. Not the reaction you would expect from the promised New World order.
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland
In response to Mr Hargreaves, South Africa and Mozambique are countries in transition who are not guilty of the excessive military spending of some of their neighbours on the continent. The fact remains that there are probably a thousand wealthy individuals globally who could have each donated more than the G7 countries have so far. The first world should be ashamed. I hope Messrs Blair, Clinton et al can sleep with a clear conscience. Were I in their position I know I could not.
Anton Zimmermann, South African student in UK
Aid to corrupt African nations should be given on the proviso that a decent regime is in place to distribute that aid and that it targets the worst affected areas. Its time to allow these nations to provide for themselves and for each other. How much of the £2bn aid package from the IMF given to Russia has been spent on the war with Chechnya. This kind of aid is obscene.
Janice McLean, UK
Many commentators here have called for African countries themselves to do more to help their fellow Africans ... I agree, but that is not possible; their equipment is too tied up killing their own people to be concerned about rescuing somebody else's. And I'm not being callous (yes, the West should do more), but damn it, why don't the Africans grow up and start helping themselves a bit more?
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK
The UK pledged a further £500,000 in aid for Mozambique yesterday. I, personally, was underwhelmed. How can the government find £500 million of taxpayers money for an oversized tent full of dross in docklands, yet cannot be bothered to make a worthwhile contribution to saving thousands of lives in one of the worlds poorest developing nations. As a nation we have billions in reserve. Lets do some good with some of it for once.
Alex S, UK
I feel very ashamed of belonging to what is called the Developed World. Once again we are sitting comfortably in our houses while thousands of people are suffering the terrible consequences of their poverty. Because if this tragedy had happened in Europe or in an economically interesting place everybody would have helped at once. Again we are spectators of our governments delayed help. Why have they waited until now? Why haven't they reacted sooner? How is it possible that only 10 helicopters were working there? I feel really ashamed of being European.
Maite, Barcelona (Spain)
I am amazed with the comments of some people: "We've helped Africa enough - it's time they learned to help themselves."! My question to you now is how can any country in the world help themselves when half that country has been washed away by floods? And here I am now referring to Mozambique - just when it was financially getting itself back on its feet again, it is hard hit by floods. South Africa, I am glad to say, is helping as much as it can. SA is also at peace with its neighbours, so its military might has been downscaled and SA has also been hard hit by the floods - the result: limited resources available to render any assistance to Mozambique.
USA & NATO were very quick to send in troops, etc., to Kuwaiti, etc. - where are they now? OK, the world has and is helping with financial, food and medical aid (that will help quite a bit now and a lot later), but right now what is needed is AID to get the people OUT of the flooded areas to higher ground, e.g. helicopters, rubber dinghies, rubber tubes, anything that floats and flies, etc. A river that used to be a few hundred metres wide is now 32km wide (or so I have been told) and to have 1000000 people crying out in any country for help is an absolute disaster - why is it that aid to render or help the specific situation is so very slow in coming forward?
Tony Russell, South Africa (Johannesburg)
I am ashamed. There are millions of US dollars being spent on mudslinging by our presidential hopefuls, millions of US dollars being spent to lobby Congress to grant China permanent most-favoured-nation status. We are the richest country in the world, our economy is the strongest it has been 20+ years. We have the ability to move a division of soldiers and all their gear and support structure anywhere on the planet within 36 hours, and we have not sent one single helicopter or boat to help rescue the people of Mozambique. How shamefully arrogant, ignorant, and hypocritical.
Very shocked that surrounding sister strong economies like Botswana and Lesotho are quiet when the neighbours are crying for help. If each African Nation sent one chopper to Mozambique, by now we would have send a very strong message to the world that we are gearing towards United States of Africa. Come on President Mugabe, what is more Important, the war in Congo or humanitarian disaster?
Wakoli Wambati, Saudi
The UK, in common with many other countries world-wide, has enough social/economical problems to deal with already, which goes a long way towards justifying the limited amount of aid it can offer...there are plenty of African States spending billions of pounds on weapons with which to fight "civil/tribal" wars that cause more problems than they solve. Why doesn't somebody have the courage to tell them to look after their people.
Is it just me that thinks that they hold the attitude that "Let's spend all our money on weapons...If we have a social disaster, we will beg for assistance..." How is that going to help anyone? Why doesn't Africa wake up and help itself?
Paul Hargreaves, UK
While the Defence Agencies of some Western countries do take on a disproportionate amount of the World's problems, the response to the flooding/consequential disease is appalling.
Last night's news stated that the (British) Ministry of Defence had put 6 Puma helicopters on stand-by, but had not dispatched them to Mozambique, because it was feared that it would take too long to get them there. Is the assumption that by waiting a few days until the problems escalate, the helicopters can get there sooner?
Doug, NL (British)
The most worrying aspect of this entire situation is that it is not a one off. I was in Mozambique at the same time last year and unsurprisingly the strong rains that year had caused similar problems, only to a lesser extent. Even then the South African Defence Force had 2 helicopters helping to distribute aid. So something is very wrong when the extremity of the situation is magnified to this extent, yet the rest of the world can only muster a few more helicopters from the huge resources available in the industrialised world.
In an era that throws the world globalisation around so much (when talking about making money), it is stunning how inward western governments are when somebody cries "help".
The international community is under moral obligation to respond decisively and swiftly to the humanitarian tragedy in Mozambique before it is too late to alleviate the human suffering.
Mohamed Abdirahman Maalim, Kenyan living in Malaysia
Those people who are affluent owe it to humanity to help the unfortunate ones in their time of dire need as is the case in Mozambique. Hence, the International Community and those individual rich people must come to the rescue/aid of Mozambique people with the minimum of delay.
OB Silla, Gambian in USA
Imagine there is a flood of this magnitude in Poland with 100000 people needed to be saved. Do you think after so many days only 10 to 20 helicopters would flying and that the "International Community" would be so ignoring or silent? If the answer is "No" ... then ask yourself why ?
Kumar Golap, Mauritius
I am surprised that UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has not flown to South Africa to focus attention on the disaster. I hope he has not forgotten the genocide in Rwanda. It is time for the African Secretary General to focus on Africa. We Africans have to help ourselves. I am very proud of the South Africans for their relief efforts.
Emmanuel Aouad, Ghana
I hope that African countries could for " ONCE", start helping their fellow Africans, What is the point of spending so much Money, In military equipment If you wont use the same equipment to help in need. I am sure Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe can commit 5 helicopters each
I am ashamed about the lack of a significant international response to the crisis in Mozambique. It would appear that some lives are more important than others. It is disgraceful that nations are quick to protect their economic interests, but are less interested in saving the lives of people in Africa.
Cyril Desouza, Canada
Hardly two weeks have passed since the highly publicised "Summit on Africa" in Washington DC. The rhetoric was about how much Africa matters, and how committed the United States was to its plight. Well, there you have it. What matters to the United States and others are Africa's resources and business opportunities, and certainly not its people.
Pete Ondeng, Netherlands
It is amazing how quickly naval war ships (aircraft carriers) can be moved around the world to protect financial interests of the world's powerful nations. Why can this force not be used to carry out rescue missions? Surely there are more than enough helicopters and why must they wait for requests for aid. We can all see how people are dying, why can't they?
John Baatjes, New Zealand - Ex South Africa
Please Ms. Carre no more taxes! I give around 10% of my gross pay to different charities that I feel most worthy. People in the Western World already give by paying their taxes. You could take some of your vacation time and fly down to South Africa and help load trucks or unload planes. Franklin I am sure that your name will be the first on the list for this rapid reaction force, I am surprised that you are sitting in your comfy home complaining about how no one saw this coming!
If this is not the time... when would that be?
Leonor Marques, Luxembourg
The International community has turned a blind eye to the South African/Mozambique flood disaster. South Africa has made it clear that they are unable to cope with the rising flood waters. I am ashamed of the actions of both the UK and USA governments.
Simon O'Shea, UK/USA
The Africans should learn to help themselves. The west now goes only where there is something to gain. Africa is no more on their ' new world order map'. Organisation of African Unity where are you? Does it mean that there are no more than 8 helicopters in black Africa to prevent this genocide by negligence!
We should realise that if we in the West value money more than peoples lives, then the 21st Century is not the comfortable, advanced and better world that we think it is.
Matthew Evans, UK living in US
US alone wastes more resources than any other nation in the world. The reporters from all over the world are hovering over these devastated areas and appear to be filled with empathy, but the countries sending these reporters cant cough up enough funds to help them. Does anyone see the hypocrisy of this situation?
Reetu Rajpoot, USA
Shame, shame, shame on the international community! Where are all the blabber-mouth politicians when it really counts! Congratulations to South Africa for being the only one to respond with physical assistance, despite its own flood damage and stretched resources. Yes, an international rapid response agency should be set up and should automatically receive a minimum of 1% of all income and corporate taxes throughout the world in order to fund the relief operations. I personally would not object to 1% of my taxes going to such a fund providing no governments had any say in how it was used. Why are we wasting time - get organized!
Margaret Carre, Belgium
It is always the same: Rwanda (The Western World failed, result humanitarian disaster!); Mozambique (The Western World failed, result humanitarian disaster!). Apart from the above two major incidents there have been countless other man-made and natural disasters in Africa. If this flood had happened in Central Europe, millions, if not then billions would have been spent on the rescue and rebuilding effort. The bottom line is money and it saddens me.
Jeremy Tucker, United Kingdom
I am appalled at the fact that Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, is sending his country's army to fight in the Congo, rather than aid people closer to home, even some of his own people. The conditions are terrible for those people and they are only going to get worse, as cholera and malaria set in. The crops are going to be ruined for the winter, so there will be starvation as well as disease. And this is all only the after-effects. What about now? The people in Mozambique are thinking about how to get out of the trees that they have been stuck in for several days. The UN has GOT to go in there and aid the government. And Mugabe needs to consider the fact that his own country is set to suffer when winter arrives and his country has nothing to eat because of flooding in that country. And other countries might not be to eager to help him.
Kirsty Carter, USA
It was sickening for me to see people this morning on the TV news up to their waist in water, waving their arms. How is it that there are planes available to fly media into the area to film the devastation, but only five helicopters for an entire country? If the United States can justify getting involved in warfare in Eastern Europe, Iraq, Vietnam and Korea by saying it was for the good of the free world, I really think they would be walking the walk if they arranged to have rescue vehicles go to Mozambique ASAP. Maybe the U.S. doesn't have any vested interest at stake such as oil, etc., but from a humanitarian point of view, I wish they would use their influence QUICKLY because these people I saw this a.m. up to their waist in water may now be drowned. I just hope the powers-that-be could picture themselves in these people's shoes for a few moments, and come to appreciate the horror, fear and uncertainty they are facing.
Mike Latona, United States
The answer to your rhetorical question is obvious - the world, represented by a Western leadership, should feel ashamed of themselves. With the "tribal wars" they claim we brought it onto ourselves (Kosovo, etc. are no tribal wars of course). Did Mozambique bring the floods unto itself too? And why can't the Aid Agencies divert resources from other areas for an emergency like this? We know what will follow is sordid pictures of the situation to serve their cause but as always after the event. It is only then that the "luxurious cross-country" vehicles can move in when the water .
S. S. Adzei, Ghana
Having been born and lived in Mozambique for half of my life and just moved to the UK, I should know all too well the pain and suffering of the Mozambicans through yet another horrendous disaster. My heart and soul go out in my prayers to the humblest and friendliest people in the world.
Piyush Tulcidas, UK.
Only a few months ago, the Nato military thugs, who also preen themselves as the international community, were beating the military drums, in the cause of humanitarian aid.
Here is a crying need for humanitarian aid - for those suffering from natural disasters; but the Pharisees and Sadducees of the West fly away in their helicopters and huge military transport planes, on the other side of the flood-stricken areas.
Instead of funding the voracious military-industrial complex, the richer nations should help the United Nations, Red Cross etc., in setting up a rapid reaction force for rescuing the victims of natural disasters.
Mohan Singh, India
I would like to thank the South African government for coming to the aid of their neighbours. However, Mozambique needs international organisations to come and help them. The aftermath of the floods will still be catastrophic to many Mozambicans. Diseases like malaria and diarrhoea will be rampant, crops destroyed and long buried mines have been swept to other areas posing a new threat. A lot of people have lost the little they had. It is time to help.
Clement T Chiwaya, Malawian in USA
This is a true disgrace. More should have been done to help these people. These floods have been on their way for about two to three weeks, and true to form no-one will own the problem, and get things moving in time. We should have a rapid response team. They could be called up as and when required, depending on the disaster and the skills required.
Or is this just too sensible for anyone
a) To have thought about it in the first place
b) To plan it properly
c) To co-ordinate it.
I am trulytruly disgusted with the way these people have been treated.
Kathy Franklin, England
Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
24 Feb 00 | Africa
Mozambique: How disaster unfolded
23 Feb 00 | Africa
Mozambique: Worst still to come
28 Feb 00 | Africa
Flood rescuers struggle to cope
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