Malawi Situation 'Still Dire' Weeks After Storm

The situation in Malawi is “still dire” two weeks after Storm Freddy left a trail of devastation in the southern region, the country's information minister has told the BBC's Newsday programme.

Moses Kunkuyu said the death toll had risen to more than 600 and many displaced people were still living in camps providing shelter and food.

He said roads and dozens of bridges had been washed away by floods, making it difficult to provide desperately needed aid.

The minister said there was a risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases in the camps because of congestion.

He said there was a crisis in the health and education sector in the areas affected by the storm. Repair works on electricity lines damaged by a previous cyclone were still unfinished and many areas are currently without power.

“So even the health sector is now overwhelmed as well. Education centres also remain affected because most of the camps that have been created are at schools,” he said.

He said with schools reopening, the government was having to make a tough decision to move the displaced people from the schools to tents that would serve as temporary shelters.

He also noted that at least 500 schools had been damaged by the storm.

The minister has appealed for more humanitarian assistance.

Storm Freddy struck Mozambique and Malawi earlier in March for the second time in a month, destroying scores of homes and triggering widespread floods.