Hundreds of thousands of people are in need of food, water and shelter after Cyclone Idai battered Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. UN chief Antonio Guterres is calling on the international community to fund appeals to aid the cyclone-hit region.
About 1.85 million people have now been affected by Cyclone Idai and its aftermath in Mozambique alone, the United Nations' humanitarian agency OCHA said on Tuesday, as aid workers raced to fathom the massive scale of the deadly disaster.
"Some will be in critical, life-threatening situations. Some will sadly have lost their livelihoods, which whilst an appalling tragedy is not immediately life threatening,” OCHA coordinator Sebastian Rhodes Stampa said.
The United Nations is also making an emergency appeal for $282 million for the next three months to help Mozambique start recovering.
Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday called on the international community to "quickly and fully" fund humanitarian appeals to ramp up UN agencies' response to the cyclone, "one of the worst environmental disasters experienced in Africa."
The UN funding for Mozambique will be used to provide water, sanitation, education and restoring the livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said on Monday.
He said separate appeals will be made shortly for Zimbabwe and Malawi, also hard-hit by the cyclone.
Lowcock said funds for cyclone victims are starting to come through, including $29 million from the United Kingdom, but are far outstripped by the needs.
Race against time
UNICEF head Henrietta Fore just visited Mozambique's ravaged port city of Beira and said "it's a race against time" to help the displaced and prevent disease.
Authorities in Mozambique say that with a key road open to the badly damaged city of Beira, conditions on the ground improving and more international help arriving, vital aid to those hit by Cyclone Idai should now flow more freely.
Cyclone Idai's death toll has risen above 750 in the three southern African countries hit 10 days ago by the storm, as workers rush to restore electricity, water and try to prevent an outbreak of cholera.
In Mozambique, the number of dead has risen to 446 while there are 259 dead in Zimbabwe and at least 56 dead in Malawi for a three-nation total of 761.
The death toll is "very preliminary," said Mozambique's environment minister, Celso Correia, who said it is expected to rise.
The US military will join the number of international aid groups assisting in providing food and medical care to those affected by the massive cyclone, one of the worst natural disasters in southern Africa's recent history. Turkey has also sent aid.