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21 March 2019 

CAFOD has joined forces with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to help hundreds of thousands of people in Southern Africa devastated by Cyclone Idai.

The cyclone swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, killing hundreds of people and affecting an estimated 2.6 million people.

CAFOD’s Director, Christine Allen, said:

“The more we see and hear of the destruction caused by Cyclone Idai, the more shocking is the devastating impact on the lives of children, women and men. Reports from the ground tell us of entire villages submerged and whole families missing.

“But there are still lives to be saved and communities who need our help. We cannot waste any time reaching those in urgent need.

“We’ve already seen how the Catholic community has responded, here in England and Wales and through our global church network. CAFOD has made an initial £100,000 pledge for Mozambique and £50,000 for Zimbabwe, but much more will be needed as the disaster unfolds.

“This money will help families who have lost everything to survive the coming days. Knowing they are not alone will give them hope.”

Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi on 14/15 March. In central Mozambique, the cyclone brought winds of up to 140 km/h, torrential rains and a tidal surge which cut off several villages. Beira City, where almost 90 per cent of the city was submerged, was one of the worst-hit areas.

Gabriel Bertani, CAFOD’s Country Representative for Mozambique, lived in the country for many years and is now returning to support local church partners. He said:

“I know the areas affected by this terrible disaster. These communities were already struggling day-to-day, and this cyclone will be crushing. 

“We know that Idai has wiped out crops and livestock, damaged water supplies and wrecked sanitation facilities, leaving vulnerable families even more exposed.

“With the support and generosity of the Catholic community, we can reach the people who really need urgent emergency aid.”

Working with our local church experts in the affected countries, rapid assessments are already underway in the worst-affected area – around Beira, Dondo, and Caia - where the priority is to reach 1,400 vulnerable people with food and hygiene kits.

Severe flooding has also affected areas of eastern Zimbabwe. Landslides have washed away bridges, and there have been reports of 600mm of rain falling in 24 hours.

Our local emergency experts in eastern Zimbabwe estimate at least 9,000 people need vital humanitarian aid, including clean and safe water, basic shelter, and food. But many districts remain inaccessible, so this number is expected to rise.   

Allen concluded:

“With the support of the British public and the DEC, our local aid workers on the ground will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that we can reach communities in the most isolated areas with vital emergency aid.”


For further information, broadcast media requests, or update briefings please contact: Nana Anto-Awuakye on - Email:, Landline: 020 7 095-5456 Mobile: 07799 477 541 OR Elouise Hobbs on - Email:, Landline: 020 7 095 5453, Mobile: 07954 077 426 or CAFOD out-of-hours media hotline: +44 (0)7919 301 429. or CAFOD out-of-hours media hotline: +44 (0)7919 301 429. 

  • The DEC brings 14 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis: ActionAid UK, Age International, Action against Hunger, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan International UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision; all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly.

  • CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. Working with communities across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with people in need, regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality. 

  • Every pound donated by the UK public to the DEC Cyclone Idai Appeal will be matched by the UK government through its Aid Match scheme up to the value of £2 million.