Portuguese help from purifying water to cutting trees

Portuguese are providing food and drinking water to Mozambican populations affected by cyclone Idai in central Mozambique but are also helping the city of Beira with four precious tools: chainsaws.

Elements of the Joint Force from Portugal, activated by the European Civil Protection Mechanism and composed mainly of the GNR, INEM and Bombeiros, are producing 4,000 litres of drinking water daily for the people of the Mozambican village of Buzi, central Portugal. affected by cyclone Idai and that they only had to consume river water.

In a report of the first week of work in the region, which on March 14 was affected by a cyclone, followed by floods, Pedro Nunes, who heads the Civil Protection mission (encompassing the various professionals), explained what is being done since the day they arrived, which was also the same as they started working.

Today, a military plane chartered by Portugal with medical and logistic material arrives in Beira, said the official, adding that another INEM (National Emergency Medical Institute) hospital will soon arrive.

And all this week, in articulation with the local authorities, four Portuguese with chainsaws have been cutting the trees that still impede the circulation in some areas of Beira, a precious work because in the first days after the cyclone the cutting of wood was mainly with axes and katanas.

They go out every day with local administration officials. Today they go to a school park to cut old trees that were ripped off by the cyclone,” said Pedro Nunes.

Other elements of the Civil Protection force, namely the GNR, are working in Buzi on water purification, also thinking about reducing disease cases, and it is already defined that at the end of the mission the equipment stays in place.

At first people looked at us with suspicion, but at the moment they noticed our presence,” said Pedro Nunes, adding that they are transporting food to Buzi in boats because the road to the village is still closed. Between 15 and 20 thousand people live in Buzi.

According to the official, quoting the Mozambican authorities, it is possible that next weekend the road may be reopened.

The president of the National Institute of Disaster Management, Augusta Maita, and the minister who coordinates the support operations for the affected people, Celso Correia, also asked the Civil Protection mission to map the village of Buzi with drones so that there a notion of the “general state of the building,” which has been done.

“The main focus of work is in Buzi,” according to Pedro Nunes, at the head of a mission of about 70 men, installed in 19 tents near the airport, behind the former Aeroclube da Beira.

The professionals coming from Portugal were prepared to do water rescue, having brought seven boats from Portugal, but with the descent of the water levels, it was no longer necessary. Pedro Nunes tells that people have stopped wanting to leave their localities and that they ask for help beforehand. “That’s what we do,” he said.

Pedro Nunes is sitting at the daily meeting of the Mozambican authorities involved in supporting the victims of Cyclone Idai and the floods that followed. He is the only foreigner to sit in these meetings, where sometimes also the person in charge of the World Food Program, also a Portuguese, participates.

The official also reminded that two EDP professionals, who are evaluating the degree of destruction of the network and the needs, are also included in the Civil Protection mission to present a recovery plan.

There is work for a year or more, there are sites where the network has to be recovered,” said Pedro Nunes, citing information from those professionals.

We are the only European group of the genre. The only European modules to work on are the Portuguese,” according to Pedro Nunes.

Asked if the aid is actually reaching people, the official said he did not know that he was not coming and said that in the village of Buzi there was the case of food arriving there were not distributed to smaller localities but added that the situation “ is being corrected.

The mission, he said, will also start distributing tents sent by humanitarian aid to Buzi.

The Secretary of State for Civil Protection, José Artur Neves, in Beira until next Friday, visited today the place where the Portuguese Joint Forces are installed.

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