Cyclone Freddy, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, hit Malawi and Mozambique, resulting in the deaths of more than 200 people and leaving thousands homeless. Nearly 59,000 people have been affected and more than 19,000 have been displaced across the country, with many now sheltering in schools and churches.
The worst affected area was Blantyre, the main commercial hub of the country, where more than 100 people died and over 500 houses were swept away by raging waters.
“Here in Blantyre over 500 houses have been swept away and the work of searching dead bodies continues. But it is hampered because the storms are pounding very hard” said Rev. Goodwin Zainga, General Secretary of the Churches of Christ in Malawi (CCM), a member church of the Council for World Mission (CWM) since 1982.
Other parts of the country also suffered significant damage and loss of life. In Zomba, schools were closed as a precaution.
“Much worse is the situation in the nearby city of Blantyre where rivers are overflowing, buildings are collapsing and more than 100 people have lost their lives already. We will not know the full extent of the damage and losses until the rains let up, but all the signs are that much devastation will be revealed” said Prof. Kenneth Ross, Dean of Postgraduate Studies at Zomba Theological College in Malawi.
Malawi’s government has declared a “state of disaster” in the southern region of the country and appealed for international assistance to cope with the humanitarian crisis.
Prayers of solidarity for Malawi have been pouring from churches around the world.
“We pray for many who are affected adversely by the cyclone, especially those who have lost the basic means of survival. May God bless all” said Rev. Dr Lungile Mpetsheni, General Secretary of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA).
“May God calm down the Cyclone Freddy as Jesus calmed the storm that threatened to devour the disciples. We remain hopeful that the effects of the disaster will be brought under control. May God spare the lives of the people of Malawi from further annihilation” said Rev. Kudzani SBM Ndebele, General Secretary of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA).
CWM General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, expressed his condolences to those affected by Cyclone Freddy. CWM urgently provided the Solidarity and Action Grant to support those who lost their loved ones, homes and belongings due to the storm. Dr Keum also urged the member churches and ecumenical partners to join efforts to support people in this crisis. “As a partnership of churches in mission committed to sharing our resources of money, people, and gifts, it is time that we come together and join our hands to strengthen the efforts of CCM in the midst of this crisis,” Dr Keum said.
Dr Keum added, “May the God of Life protect and preserve the people in Malawi and Mozambique from Cyclone Freddy by calming the storm and restoring peace and life.”