Masvingo flood victims worry UN

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THE United Nations (UN) says the increasing population at a holding camp for Tokwe-Mukosi’s flood victims is putting a strain on facilities and resources.

About 2 500 families who were evacuated to the camp are living in precarious conditions with water, food and medicine shortages.

In its latest statement, the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said current maize food stocks will run out at the end of March.

Recently evacuated from floods, families in south-east Zimbabwe left one disaster and plunged straight into another.

They were brought in to a holding camp, but the government and aid agencies appear ill-prepared to deal with the humanitarian fallout. One small plastic tent per household was provided, while hundreds more were on the waiting list. There are queues and shortages for almost everything — precious water, refills and prescriptions for tuberculosis or anti-retroviral treatment are lost in the floods.

Women are bearing children in makeshift facilities, while 2 500 pupils are being schooled under trees with only 21 teachers.

While aid groups are on the ground, insiders say only R40 million worth of services have been received.

The provincial authority said despite the situation being fluid, assistance has helped avert a crisis.

With no lives lost yet, their next step is to decongest the camp. Provincial Administrator Felix Chikovo Masvingo said: “We should not hold people any longer than necessary in the camp because of the challenges.

“We have received clear instructions to start pegging residential sites.”

Officials say without animal vaccinations and adequate drugs, the threat of a major disease outbreak hangs over the camp.

The government has appealed for over R200 million.

All this is part of an ambitious plan to pay compensation, build schools, install irrigation as well as feed the families until the next harvest in 2015.

Without the money, people say they feel abandoned, caught between a rock and a hard place — the floods behind them and a wilderness ahead.

— SABC