UK supports Malawis recovery efforts

By UK government 

The UK is providing an emergency package of assistance comprising: a team of emergency medical personnel, a team with international search and rescue expertise (ISAR), specialist boats, and urgently needed emergency relief items such as shelter materials and water filters.

This is in addition to the immediate support the UK provided to the Malawi Government at the Emergency Operations Centre in Blantyre when the cyclone hit. This included food assistance, staff and vehicles to help Government and the UN launch emergency operations.

The UK ISAR team will be supporting Malawian counterparts; the team is bringing lightweight, nimble boats and a drone team to help in the search for survivors of the floods. These boats will be gifted to the Malawian Government for future emergency use when the UK ISAR team departs.

The Emergency Medical Team (EMT) will support hospitals in southern Malawi to treat the victims of Cyclone Freddy. They will also join with an existing cholera-focussed UK EMT to help reduce the risk of the ongoing cholera outbreak getting worse, following the floods.

Shelter and water filters will provide emergency shelter to approximately 3,000 people and allow up to 12,750 of those affected by floods, to access clean water and protect themselves from disease.

The UK International Search and Rescue advance party arrived in Malawi on Friday, 17 March. An additional Emergency Medical Team arrived in Blantyre on 18 March. The main UK International Search and Rescue team arrived through Kamuzu International Airport.

Acting British High Commissioner to Malawi, Sophia Willitts-King, said:

The UK is saddened by the tragic loss of life caused by Cyclone Freddy due to the extreme rainfall and unprecedented flooding in Southern Malawi. We stand side by side with Malawi in responding to this crisis.

The UK’s rapid support will help Malawi with its search and rescue efforts. The additional medical capacity will help Malawi’s hospitals save lives. We are providing temporary shelter to give families protection from the weather.

We are also investing in equipment that will help people access clean water and sanitation facilities. This support is vital to prevent the spread of deadly diseases, including cholera.

Cyclone Freddy made landfall in Mozambique on 11 March and Malawi on 12 March. The flooding has already displaced 19,000 people. Malawi was hit particularly hard with what would have previously been judged as a 1-in-20 a year weather event.

While the wider picture remains unclear due to lack of access, landslides on the hillsides around Blantyre and severe flooding throughout Southern Malawi has resulted in over 326 deaths, 832 injured, and 282 missing, with the displacement of over 40,702 homes (approximately 183,159 people), as of 17 March. The flood waters are predicted to peak at the beginning of next week.

The UK ISAR deployed through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, following a request for assistance from Malawi. The team is on permanent standby to mobilise and assist when requested by disaster-affected countries. It always deploys as an official UK government team once a request has been made for assistance.

The UK ISAR is self-sufficient and provides its own food, water, shelter, sanitation, communications and all necessary equipment to undertake search and rescue operations for up to 14 days. This is to ensure no additional burden is placed upon a country already suffering demands on its resources, following a sudden onset disaster.

The UK ISAR was established in 1993 and has 30 years of experience deploying internationally to such disasters historically. The team is made up of 14 fire and rescue services.

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