UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today distributing 540 solar-powered lamps to some 2,000 survivors of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. The distribution will take place at the Picoco 1 displacement site, where some 600 families have sought safety after their homes were damaged or destroyed by the destructive impact of the cyclone.
The delivery marks the first UNHCR distribution of aid in Mozambique, and is set to be followed by further deliveries of family tents, blankets, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets and other core relief items in the coming days.
“Light can be a vital lifeline for people forced to live in darkness,” said Hans Lunshof. “When the sun sets, everything stops and the dangers rise. With these lights, we’re helping to ensure the safety of thousands of survivors impacted by the devastating effects of Cyclone Idai.”
Women and girls are particularly at risk in areas without electricity or light. By providing greater visibility when going to washrooms or walking around after sunset, the portable lamps greatly reduce the risk of sexual assaults and rape. They allow children to continue with their studies and provide communities with the opportunity to gather socially after dark. They also help to reduce pollution and fire risks by providing a sustainable alternative to kerosene lanterns, candles or battery torches.
The lamps additionally function as mobile-phone chargers, providing people with the opportunity to keep in contact with loved ones and gain access to the internet. In the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, having readily-available information on how and where to access humanitarian support can be crucial in helping the most vulnerable access the assistance they need.
Last week, UNHCR delivered around 250 tonnes of life-saving assistance for survivors of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. At least 500 people have lost their lives in Mozambique alone, with that figure likely to rise higher as waters further recede and more areas become accessible. At the same time, some 140,000 people who have lost their homes are sheltering in makeshift displacement sites.
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