UN’s humanitarian agencies have met ahead of Cyclone Fani arrival in India to study the readiness for it, according to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s Spokesperson Stephane Guterres.
He said on Friday at his news briefing: “Our colleagues in India are well aware (of the situation). The UN humanitarian agencies in India have also met ahead of the storm’s arrival to take stock of preparedness measures.”
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) referred to the evacuation of over a million people from the endangered areas and the opening of thousands of cyclone centres and said “it is to be hoped that the massive mobilisation operation ahead of Fani will keep casualties to a minimum”.
The Geneva-headquartered WMO noted that the fatalities from severe cyclones have been coming down in India because of “forecasts and warnings and better coordinated disaster management”.
Super Cyclonic Storm BOB06 caused more than 10,000 fatalities in October 1999, but the toll from an equally intense cyclone, Phailin, in 2013 was less than 50.
Fani was less intense at landfall than either of those two, “but is still one of the most intense storms to make landfall in Odisha for 20 years”, it added.
The UN’s relief organisations’ resources are stretched bringing aid to East African countries reeling from a double punch delivered by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth.
Idai, which struck Mozambique on March 14 and then ripped through Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe left more than 1,000 people dead. Six weeks later, Kenneth hit Comoros on April 24 and tore into Mozambique the next day. The death toll in the second cyclone was about 40.
The head of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Regional Office for Southern and Eastern Africa, Gemma Connell, told reporters via teleconference: “We are operating two operations on shoe-string budget. We desperately need more money to come in.”
Food assistance has been provided to 27,000 people hit by Kenneth despite the torrential rains that followed impacting relief efforts.
Mozambique has not had cyclones before and the two that have devastated it are the result of climate change, she said. “What is absolutely tragic is that these weather events are impacting the people who have had the least contribution to climate change in the world.”
UN agencies are also trying to stop an outbreak of cholera in Mozambique in the aftermath of the flooding, she said.