UN experts calls for solidarity with people affected by Africa cyclone

GENEVA (1 April 2019) – UN human rights experts* have called on States, international organisations and private actors to show solidarity with Southern Africa countries after Cyclone Idai left hundreds of people dead, hundreds of thousands displaced and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Idai caused catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, leaving more than 700 people dead and hundreds more missing, and affected more than 3 million other persons, from 9 to 21 March 2019.

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Experts estimate the cyclone was the costliest tropical cyclone ever in the South-West Indian Ocean basin, including in terms of a negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights. “Strong winds and widespread flooding have ripped apart roads, bridges, houses, schools and health facilities and submerged vast swathes of agricultural land,” the experts said.

“Although most river levels may have now peaked, flooding remains severe and the full scale of the disaster has yet to become clear as search and rescue operations continue. With little clean drinking water available, cholera cases have been reported and there is a high risk of outbreaks of other waterborne diseases.

“The magnitude of this catastrophe sends a clear message that much more must be done in terms of disaster planning, emergency preparedness, and climate adaptation. Scientific evidence suggests these types of event will become more frequent and more severe in the future.

“In line with the UN Charter, the Draft UN Declaration on Human Rights and International Solidarity, and other global and regional treaties and instruments, we call upon States, international organisations, civil society, and private individuals and companies to show solidarity with the affected States, communities, families and individuals.

“Affected countries need help to support the numerous efforts undertaken by civil society organisations, including disaster relief agencies to bring comfort and relief to those affected by the devastation caused by this cyclone.”

(*)The UN experts: Mr. Obiora C. Okafor, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity; Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Mr. Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; Mr. David. R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment; Mr. Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development; Mr. Dainius Pῡras, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health; Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons; Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.