Chipinge, Zimbabwe – The death toll from cyclone Idai continues to rise as southern African countries struggle to deal with the devastating aftermath of the torrential downpours.
The powerful storm has killed at least 64 people in Zimbabwe in recent days, government officials say, while in neighbouring Mozambique the death toll has jumped to 48.
Idai made landfall in Mozambique on Thursday evening before proceeding to Zimbabwe and Malawi, causing flash floods, wrecking infrastructure and leaving communities without electricity.
More than a million people have been affected, including tens of thousands who have been displaced, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
In Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands, the heavy rains had died out by Sunday – but only after causing widespread destruction.
In Chipinge, an eastern town some 450km southeast of the capital, Harare, transport links were cut off after a road was damaged due to water pressure.
A bus carrying passengers bound for Harare was stuck in a mush of soft tar and mud. A few small cars managed to bypass the sludge when volunteers and soldiers laid down a makeshift path made of wooden planks.
Volunteers try to push a car stuck in the broken muddy road in Chipinge, Zimbabwe [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]
Transport engineers told Al Jazeera that the works to repair the damaged road could take up to a day, leaving locals trying to leave the flooded town straned.
Gladys Nyandoro, a 58-year-old Chipinge resident whose home had been flooded, said she would seek alternative transport to continue her journey with her son to a temporary shelter in Harare.
“I could only leave with a few clothes, but my house is full of water. I have never seen so much rain since we moved back here,” she said of her husband’s communal home.
“I just want to go back to Harare; this area is too much for me.”
Anesu Chitepo, a 22-year-old shopkeeper, said his grocery store had been affected by erratic power outages caused by the heavy rains.
“We can’t be happy to think this rain is a blessing, when everything it touches is destroyed,” he said. “This will only bring us more trouble, than the real water we wanted.”
A man walks past the Devuli River in southeastern Zimbabwe where water levels have risen significantly [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]
Zimbabwe’s government has declared the torrential storm a disaster and dispatched members of the military and national youth service to help evacuate stranded villagers.
Meanwhile, the country’s Civil Protection Unit has been using helicopters to gain access to the remote town of Chimanimani, on the northeastern border with Mozambique.
Local aid groups are yet access the area where dozens are thought to be missing and hundreds more are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
According to Joshua Sacco, a local member of parliament, all four bridges leading to the mountainous town have been damaged.
“We have people stranded in this area, but the access roads to this area have landslides,” he said.
“There is nothing, we don’t have any road accessible,” added Sacco.
“The best form of help we need is an excavator or a grader to clear the roads.”
The cyclone has brought torrential rains and winds thought to be worst in decades since Cyclone Eline struck the region in 2000.
Vietnamese envoy hails KRCS’ global humanitarian efforts
KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer meets Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh. – KUNAKUWAIT: Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh hailed the humanitarian efforts of Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) around the world. The remarks were made to KUNA yesterday after the ambassador’s meeting with KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer. He expressed appreciation…
KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer meets Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh. – KUNAKUWAIT: Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh hailed the humanitarian efforts of Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) around the world. The remarks were made to KUNA yesterday after the ambassador’s meeting with KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer. He expressed appreciation for the society’s aid to the Vietnamese Embassy during the coronavirus crisis.
The ambassador added that they discussed providing his country with aid to face the impact of the recent floods and landslides, considered to be the worst in decades. Sayer said he was pleased with the ambassador’s visit and affirmed that KRCS will continue exerting humanitarian efforts to aid those affected by natural disasters and crises everywhere. – KUNA
Pain, frustration: Expats lose jobs to new rules and COVID
File photos show foreign workers applying to leave Kuwait during the amnesty. – Photos by Yasser Al-ZayyatBy Chidi Emmanuel After working for 24 years in Kuwait, Charley Lyon received the dreaded letter that many expats fear amid the economic downturn, coronavirus pandemic and new residency laws. Lyon is among thousands of expat workers in the…
File photos show foreign workers applying to leave Kuwait during the amnesty. – Photos by Yasser Al-ZayyatBy Chidi Emmanuel
After working for 24 years in Kuwait, Charley Lyon received the dreaded letter that many expats fear amid the economic downturn, coronavirus pandemic and new residency laws. Lyon is among thousands of expat workers in the government sector who were being laid off.
As part of its Kuwaitization policy, Kuwait is replacing expats with locals in the government sector. The government has also stopped issuing work permits to expats over 60 years of age without a university degree. These new rules have had a huge impact on the lives of thousands of expats in the country, leaving many with no choice but to pack their bags and leave.
Gulf countries are facing an exodus of foreign workers as the coronavirus pandemic pushes out foreign workers. In the midst of the COVID-19 and financial crunch, the National Assembly approved a draft law to slash expat numbers over the next five years.
As the budget deficit widens and economic conditions worsen, Kuwait is grappling with an economic downturn as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc around the world. The combined shock of collapsing oil prices, the pandemic and joblessness is reshaping labor policies in the region, thus bringing anti-foreigner sentiments to the fore again.
While Kuwait’s expats struggle to secure their jobs, the government is calling for an increase in workforce nationalization in government entities. “Why will foreigners take the jobs meant for us (Kuwaitis)? They can work anywhere – but not in the ministries,” argued Abdullah, a 26-year-old Kuwaiti.
Buttressing Abdullah’s viewpoint, Fatma, an unemployed Kuwaiti woman, complained of the difficulty in competing with foreign workers for jobs in the private sector. “Foreign workers can work longer for less, unlike us Kuwaitis. So most companies prefer to hire non-Kuwaitis. This leaves us with only one sector (the public sector). I think this is why the government introduced Kuwaitization, so as to give unemployed Kuwaitis an opportunity,” she explained.
For Lyon, justice and fairness should override anti-expat sentiments. “It is understandable that ministries would give preference to locals for jobs during these tough times, but it would be fair to consider the efforts of the old staff who have put in their best to build this country,” Lyon, 61, and some of his co-workers who were laid off recently lamented, as they worry about their future.
Expats make up the majority of the population of Kuwait. Residency is tied to employment and Kuwait does not easily offer citizenship routes to non-nationals. “We have been here (in Kuwait) legally for over 20 years. It will be difficult to go back and start afresh in our home countries. More so, Kuwait’s residency is linked to the work permit – when you lose your job, you automatically lose your residency. I worry about my children who are still in school. The three-month notice will not be enough to relocate them,” Mustapha, an Egyptian expat who recently lost his job, said in dismay.
Abdurazak Hamad, an African expat, is in a dilemma. “I feel miserable leaving my family behind. I don’t want to go alone, but I can’t make my wife quit her KD 450 job since she is now the sole breadwinner. Starting afresh in my home country at this age (62) will be very difficult. I wish I can get a permit (residency) to stay here with my family,” said Hamad, who was recently sacked.
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