Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) Director Augusta Maita said that “so far, we have not had any indication of the involvement” of workers of the organization.
Mozambique police arrested several individuals on suspicion of misappropriating humanitarian relief aid meant for the victims of Cyclone Idai, which ravaged southern regions of Africa on March 14.
“There are many complaints of diversion of donations,” according to Joaquim Tomo, the public prosecution's spokesperson in the cyclone-hit Sofala province. At least two government officials are among those who have been apprehended, All Africa reported.
“As I speak, we have two sets of people who were trying to steal, and they came from one source at Silver Stream… so the people who were stealing happened to be officials who were working there and both of them have been caught,” Local Government Minister July Moyo announced at a post-cabinet meeting in Harare Tuesday.
“One court case is going through in Chipinge and the other in Rusape. Some of the things they were stealing are actually ridiculous, but people would do that. We have another case which has been reported to me of government officials and some other non-government people who also tried to take things and convert them to their personal use.”
Meanwhile, the director of the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC), Augusta Maita, noted that “so far, we have not had any indication of the involvement” of workers of the organization. Maita stated that the investigation into the theft of the aid involved volunteers and not INGC staff members.
“We are investigating on a case-by-case basis,” Tomo further explained. “We have three detainees who diverted 19 bags of rice, 19 bags of (maize) flour, 11 bags of soya beans, 100kg of beans.”
The spokesperson also disclosed that more arrests were expected to be made in connection with the theft of the aid. "It doesn't matter who it is", Tomo added, "we're asking people not to be afraid, and to denounce any kind of theft of donations."
Friday U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said it had, so far, provided some 550,000 people with food aid. Late March, the United Nations World Food Programme classified the situation in Mozambique as the highest level of emergency.
“The United Nations and other humanitarian organizations that are in the country, the NGOs, have a very good track record of being able to reach out to the people they need,” Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ deputy head Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, stated to reporters.
In the aftermath of the cyclone, a cholera outbreak has, so far, claimed the lives of five people and infected 2,424 others. The disease has specifically spread as a result of contaminated food and water.
Last month, Idai swept through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, killing hundreds and displaced tens of thousands.