United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Maputo from Nairobi early on Thursday, 11 July.
Shortly after arriving, the Secretary-General met with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi at the President’s office.
Speaking to the press afterwards, the Secretary-General said he was on a visit of solidarity with the people of Mozambique following the devastation caused by cyclones Kenneth and Idai. The country barely contributes to global warming, but its people are on the front lines of climate change, Mr. Guterres added.
From the moment the country was hit by the cyclones in March and April of 2019, the United Nations considered Mozambique to be an absolute priority. He congratulated the Government and the people for an extraordinary response to these natural disasters and appealed for a quick concretization of the pledges made in a donors’ conference hosted in the city of Beira in May.
After a briefing by the United Nations country team, the Secretary-General met with representatives of non-governmental organizations involved in fighting discrimination against albinism.
On Thursday evening, the Secretary-General was hosted by the President at a State banquet, which was also attended by former President Joachim Chissano.
On Friday morning, 12 July, the Secretary-General flew to Beira, in the north of the country, to take stock of the recovery efforts in the areas impacted by the cyclones.
In Beira, he met with survivors, local authorities, the local United Nations country team and civil society organizations supporting the cyclone recovery response.
Upon arrival, he was met by the Governor of Sofala province, Alberto Mondlane. The Governor outlined the challenges they have had since the devastation. The Secretary-General expressed his solidarity with the Governor and the people of the area and added that he would push for quicker disbursement from the international community.
In Beira, the Secretary-General visited the 25 June school in the Munhava neighbourhood, which was impacted by the cyclone. The Secretary-General was able to see first-hand the damage caused to classrooms, many of which remain operational but without a roof. He also saw hurricane-proof classrooms built with support from the United Nations; they survived the storms intact.
During the visit he heard from the headmaster and the students about the challenges they faced during the cyclones and continue to face today. He encouraged them to continue with their studies and pledged that their classrooms would be rebuilt.
He also interacted with people with disabilities and heard of their particular vulnerabilities during disaster situations. It is the duty of the United Nations to help those who have suffered the most during this tragedy, Mr. Guterres told them.
The Secretary-General then visited the Mandruzi resettlement centre where he met with the residents and participated in a focus group with women leaders. The resettlement area was set up by the Government as a durable solution in the cyclones’ aftermath. It currently houses about 375 families who were each given a plot of land.
The Secretary-General told the residents that he was visiting to gather support from all over the world to ensure that they get the help they need to rebuild their lives. He asked about their needs and said more permanent help in health, education and energy was on its way.
In his meeting with women leaders in the camp, they explained to the Secretary-General how they had lost their livelihoods but how they didn’t want to be dependent on help for much longer. They told him they want to go back to their own activities, so as to no longer be dependent on outside help.
Returning to Beira city, the Secretary-General and his delegation met with Daviz Simango, the Mayor of Beira.
Prior to returning to Maputo, the Secretary-General spoke to the press at the World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse in Beira.
He noted the courage and the resilience of the people of Mozambique as they rebuild their lives in the face of so much loss of life and so much destruction. The United Nations will not leave, he pledged, we will go on working but we need much more support from the international community to the people of Mozambique.
He also explained that this visit is also linked to his very determined action in relation to climate action in advance of the summit he is convening in New York in September. The Secretary-General talked about his recent trips to the Pacific and the Caribbean. Whether they are in Tuvalu, Dominica or Mozambique, the people who are the most vulnerable to the changing climate, who are on the front lines, are the least responsible for global warming. Mr. Guterres reiterated his call for reason, asking countries to commit themselves to make sure that there will not be an increase of temperature higher than 1.5 degrees Celsius at the end of the century. For that to happen, there will be a need for strong political will to take bold action.
The Secretary-General departed Mozambique on Saturday.