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A month after the initial floods, thousands of Mozambicans in remote areas still do not get any assistance

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Mopeia/Geneva - Around 136,000 people have been displaced due to the floods that hit the provinces neighbouring the Zambesi River about a month ago. Though the initial response has allowed for cautious optimism, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) notes that the situation of the flood victims in the Zambesia Province is far from satisfactory: health risks remain high.

Though the humanitarian aid activities have been concentrated in the Mutarrara and Caia areas, as well as Vilankulo city, that were hit by the Favio cyclone, more than 25,000 displaced people of the Mopeia and Morrumbala districts are still left to their own devices. No food or other necessary goods has reached them since the beginning of the floods.

The global capacity response at local level has reached its limits. An international mobilisation is crucial to avoid a worsening of the flood victims' health conditions.

"The real extent of the crisis is still hard to determine," explains Bruno Lab, Head of Mission for MSF. "The joint response of Mozambican government, local and international organisations has prevented the worst from happening. However, the cycle of drought, cyclones and flooding in other provinces of the country has diminished the national capacity to help everybody."

Severe access difficulties by land, coupled with an extensive geographical intervention zone make it particularly hard to intervene in terms of logistics. Additional sea and air transportation are needed to bring the necessary goods - currently confined to stock areas - to the displaced population.

Signs of tension have been reported inside the accommodation sites of Nowere, Braz, Valete and Calangana because of the flagrant lack of food.

"These people left everything behind whilst trying to get away from the floods," says Véronique Mulloni, a logistician specialising in water, hygiene and sanitation activities. "Up to now, they have survived thanks to fishing. All they have for their daily chores is some jerrycans and a few kitchen sets. They must live in grass huts and have only limited access to health care."

Two weeks after regrouping the displaced population in safer areas, new accommodation sites are reported every day, with hundreds of new families registered. Up to now, about 40 accommodation centres have been reported.

MSF calls for the Mozambican government and the humanitarian aid actors to urgently step up their interventions both in terms of logistics and food/non-food item supply to provide for the basic necessities of the ever growing number of people affected by the floods.

Since the beginning of the floods (end of January 2007), MSF has been concentrating its interventions in several districts in the Zambesia and Tete Provinces. The main objective is to provide basic assistance to 50,000 displaced people for shelter, water and sanitation, distribution of food and non-food items.

The teams are also giving support to the Mozambican health authorities by delivering primary health care services in the accommodation centres, as well as epidemiological surveillance. MSF is present in Mozambique since 1984.