Mission to reunite families displaced by devastating Cyclone Idai begins in Mozambique

Children displaced by the floods in Buzi, Mozambique.

Walking in a single file, holding on to the shoulder of the child in front of them is a group of children just rescued by boat from the town of Buzi.

Most are barefoot and carry no belongings as they arrive at Beira’s port a week after Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique.

Stunned and quiet they are met by aid workers who hand out cups of water and food. Some are only babies, carried by, presumably, an older brother or sister. At tents which have been erected for shelter, they speak their names quietly as they are added to lists of people displaced from Buzi by the floods.

Waiting for them is a large group of people, some holding hands, others craning their necks - searching the faces of those brought off the boats for ones they recognise.

Children who survived Cyclone Idai, rescued from Buzi, Mozambique.

“I’m looking for my sister,” says one man.

Women in the group say they too are from Buzi and are looking for children and family members from whom they have been separated by the floods.

Across town in the city’s airport, aid workers say some people encircled to the north of Beira by the floods have refused to leave their homes - concerned they will never return again or lose what few belongings they still possess to looters.

“The priority today is to push out deliveries of food and water to places where people are still living and don’t want to leave, said the UN’s Head of Communications Saviano Abreu.

A week on from the cyclone which stormed through this part of Mozambique, there is increasing concern for people still trapped on roofs by the floodwaters across hundreds of square kilometres of this country.

“We are reaching a critical point”’ said Gerry Bourke from the World Food Programme.

“Time has almost run out to rescue these people alive.”

A road damaged by Cyclone Idai in Nhamatanda about 50 kilometres from Beira, in Mozambique Credit: AP