Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera on Wednesday directed that his country would observe 14 days of mourning of victims of tropical Cyclone Freddy which has claimed 225 lives so far.
The cyclone which has affected 13 districts in the southern region of Malawi has also left 707 people nursing injuries and has displaced over 83,000 people from 18,689 households.
President Chakwera, who made the announcement at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, added that during this period of mourning, all flags will be raised at half mast for the first seven days.
However, he did not disclose the beginning of the mourning period.
“The objectives are to ensure citizens lost are given a dignified burial, the missing are accounted for and ensure all those stranded in unsafe areas are brought to safe shelters,” Chakwera said.
He also said they would ensure all state and non-state actors, officials and volunteers are implementing one strategy and ensure the country secures more support from international partners and local stakeholders.
On Wednesday, Chakwera attended a funeral ceremony of the 21 people who died in Chilobwe, following the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy, and visited people affected by the storm in Manja, Ndirande and Nyambadwe camps in Blantyre.
Freddy struck central Mozambique's Zambezia on March 11, destroying homes and causing widespread flooding. The storm also brought down telephone lines and power cables, leading to communication outages.
In Mozambique, authorities reported 21 deaths and 24 injuries.
After hitting Mozambique, the cyclone then lashed Malawi with heavy rains, bringing landslides to rural areas and impacting Blantyre with serious flooding.
Freddy is arguably the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere. It first made a landfall in mid-February afflicting Madagascar, Mauritius and Mozambique.
Malawi’s Minister of Education Madalitso Wirima Kambauwa, announced that learning in schools remains suspended until the situation gets better.
On Tuesday, Amnesty International (AI) said Mozambique and Malawi were among the countries least responsible for climate change, yet they were facing the full force of intensifying storms due to global warming, driven mostly by carbon emissions from the world’s richest nations.
The lobby group also urged the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the international community to mobilise the necessary resources to aid rescue efforts in the countries hardest hit by Cyclone Freddy.
“The focus must be on saving lives and providing relief in a manner that is compliant with human rights standards, for those who have lost their homes and livelihoods,” AI Director for East and Southern Africa Mr Tigere Chagutah said.
Chagutah also added that the affected countries must also be compensated for loss and damage caused by the cyclone.