Chinese rescuers join Mozambicans to prevent epidemics

04Apr 2019
Correpondent
The Guardian
Chinese rescuers join Mozambicans to prevent epidemics

Fifteen days have passed since Cyclone Idai made landfall near the coastal city of Beira in central Mozambique.

The sky has been clear in the past full week without rain, which is a good omen for a city ravaged by storms and flooding rains for so long.

In the densely populated neighborhood Munhava, if you ask a local child how he or she has been doing, the most likely answer you would get is: I'm doing okay.

When a group of Chinese medical staff sprayed the facilities at June 25 Elementary School, kids were running around over an open gutterway, romping after one another.

Everything looked fine for most of the local children, but ten-year-old schoolgirl Yolanda Sousa was worried.Sousa lived with her mother, her sister and aunt. She feared that her aunt, who has been in bed and suffered from diarrhea for days, was going to die.

"I know the Chinese are here to protect us from this kind of disease. I have the habit to wash my hands before eating or after toilet," said Sousa, adding that she was told to wash her hands with soap or plant ash.

It's easy even for a 10-year-old to keep personal hygiene habits if she has her own place to stay, but things will get much more difficult if too many people huddle together in one single room, under the same roof.

Sousa's school has been the shelter for 318 victims of the Cyclone Idai, and its deputy director Joaquim Joao said the spraying is important, because "many victims live in one classroom separated by sex. Many are children and women; they deserve to be at some place cleaner."

In Sousa's neighborhood, the Chinese rescue team also provided sanitizing services at Amilcar Cabral Elementary School, which functioned as a temporary shelter for almost 600 victims.

"The conditions are not good for everyone who lives here. They sleep in the classroom on the ground, side by side," said Alberto Muanido, a local research assistant of the Health Alliance International who assisted the government in identifying the places in need of sanitizing.

"Many cases of diarrhea came from the neighborhood of Munhava. Right now in the school nobody has the symptoms. We only asked the team to come here to prevent it from happening," Muanido told Xinhua.

Laurinda Fael, a peasant, moved to the school with her three children since the dawn of March 15 after their house was destroyed by the storm. She said they didn't expect to stay here for long.

"The help from the Chinese is good, but if I got any help to rebuild my house, I will move out," said Fael.National Director of Medical Care Hussen Issa said the local newspaper "The Country" reported Thursday that five people have died from severe diarrhea over the last two days in Munhava, but it cannot be confirmed whether the deaths were caused by cholera.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said on Thursday that the government intends to ensure the vaccination of 800,000 people against cholera to prevent outbreaks of the disease.

Zhu Wei, head of the medical staff of the Chinese rescue team, whose team sanitized three temporary shelters on Friday morning in Beira, said their work was very important for the recovery of normal life and the reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas at this crucial stage.

"If the epidemics make the disaster area into an infected area, the subsequent relief work will increase exponentially," said Zhu.

Asked if there was going be an outbreak, Muanido said: "It can be contained, we have worse situation before and we managed to contain it." 

Mozambique   officially the Republic of Mozambique Chichewa: Mozambiki, Swahili: Msumbiji, Tsonga:

Muzambhiki), is a country located in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Eswatini (Swaziland) and South Africa to the southwest. The sovereign state is separated from the Comoros, Mayotte and Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel to the east. The capital of Mozambique is Maputo (formerly known as "Lourenço Marques" from 1876 to 1976) while Matola is the largest city, being a suburb of Maputo. 

Between the first and fifth centuries AD, Bantu-speaking peoples migrated to present-day Mozambique from farther north and west. Northern Mozambique lies within the monsoon trade winds of the Indian Ocean. Between the 7th and 11th centuries, a series of Swahili port towns developed here, which contributed to the development of a distinct Swahili culture and language. In the late medieval period, these towns were frequented by traders from Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Arabia, Persia, and India.  

The voyage of Vasco da Gama in 1498 marked the arrival of the Portuguese, who began a gradual process of colonisation and settlement in 1505. After over four centuries of Portuguese rule, Mozambique gained independence in 1975, becoming the People's Republic of Mozambique shortly thereafter. After only two years of independence, the country descended into an intense and protracted civil war lasting from 1977 to 1992. In 1994, Mozambique held its first multiparty elections, and has since remained a relatively stable presidential republic, although it still faces a low-intensity insurgency.  

Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources. The country's economy is based largely on agriculture, but industry is growing, mainly food and beverages, chemical manufacturing and aluminium and petroleum production.

The tourism sector is also expanding. South Africa is Mozambique's main trading partner and source of foreign direct investment, while Belgium, Brazil, Portugal and Spain are also among the country's most important economic partners. Since 2001, Mozambique's annual average GDP growth has been among the world's highest. However, the country is still one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world,  ranking low in GDP per capita, human development, measures of inequality and average life expectancy.  

The only official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, which is spoken mostly as a second language by about half the population. Common native languages include Makhuwa, Sena, and Swahili. The country's population of around 29 million is composed overwhelmingly of Bantu people. The largest religion in Mozambique is Christianity, with significant minorities following Islam and African traditional religions. Mozambique is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Southern African Development Community, and is an observer at La Francophonie. 

The country was named Moçambique by the Portuguese after the Island of Mozambique, derived from Mussa Bin Bique or Musa Al Big or Mossa Al Bique or Mussa Ben Mbiki or Mussa Ibn Malik, an Arab trader who first visited the island and later lived there.  The island-town was the capital of the Portuguese colony until 1898, when it was moved south to Lourenço Marques (now Maputo). 

History

Between the 1st and 5th centuries AD, waves of Bantu-speaking people migrated from the west and north through the Zambezi River valley and then gradually into the plateau and coastal areas.  They established agricultural communities or societies based on herding cattle. They brought with them the technology for smelting and smithing iron. 

Swahili Coast

From the late first millennium AD, vast Indian Ocean trade networks extended as far south into Mozambique as evidenced by the ancient port town of Chibuene.  Beginning in the 9th century, a growing involvement in Indian Ocean trade led to the development of numerous port towns along the entire East African coast, including modern day Mozambique. Largely autonomous, these towns broadly participated in the incipient Swahili culture. Islam was often adopted by urban elites, facilitating trade. In Mozambique, Sofala, Angoche, and Mozambique Island were regional powers by the 15th century. 

The towns traded with merchants from both the African interior and the broader Indian Ocean world. Particularly important were the gold and ivory caravan routes. Inland states like the Kingdom of Zimbabwe and Kingdom of Mutapa provided the coveted gold and ivory, which were then exchanged up the coast to larger port cities like Kilwa and Mombasa.[16] 

From about 1500, Portuguese trading posts and forts displaced the Arabic commercial and military hegemony, becoming regular ports of call on the new European sea route to the east.  

The voyage of Vasco da Gama around the Cape of Good Hope in 1498 marked the Portuguese entry into trade, politics, and society of the region. The Portuguese gained control of the Island of Mozambique and the port city of Sofala in the early 16th century, and by the 1530s, small groups of Portuguese traders and prospectors seeking gold penetrated the interior regions, where they set up garrisons and trading posts at Sena and Tete on the River Zambezi and tried to gain exclusive control over the gold trade.  

In the central part of the Mozambique territory, the Portuguese attempted to legitimise and consolidate their trade and settlement positions through the creation of prazos (land grants) tied to their settlement and administration. While prazos were originally developed to be held by Portuguese, through intermarriage they became African Portuguese or African Indian centres defended by large African slave armies known as Chikunda.   Historically within Mozambique there was slavery. Human beings were bought and sold by African tribal chiefs, first to Arab Muslim traders and sent to Middle East Asia cities and plantations, and later to Portuguese and other European traders as well. Many Mozambican slaves were supplied by tribal chiefs who raided warring tribes and sold their captives to the prazeiros.  

Although Portuguese influence gradually expanded, its power was limited and exercised through individual settlers and officials who were granted extensive autonomy. The Portuguese were able to wrest much of the coastal trade from Arab Muslims between 1500 and 1700, but, with the Arab Muslim seizure of Portugal's key foothold at Fort Jesus on Mombasa Island (now in Kenya) in 1698, the pendulum began to swing in the other direction. As a result, investment lagged while Lisbon devoted itself to the more lucrative trade with India and the Far East and to the colonisation of Brazil.  During these wars, the Mazrui and Omani Arabs reclaimed much of the Indian Ocean trade, forcing the Portuguese to retreat south. Many prazos had declined by the mid-19th century, but several of them survived. During the 19th century other European powers, particularly the British (British South Africa Company) and the French (Madagascar), became increasingly involved in the trade and politics of the region around the Portuguese East African  

By the early 20th century the Portuguese had shifted the administration of much of Mozambique to large private companies, like the Mozambique Company, the Zambezia Company and the Niassa Company, controlled and financed mostly by "British" financiers such as Solomon Joel, which established railroad lines to their neighbouring colonies (South Africa and Rhodesia). Although slavery had been legally abolished in Mozambique, at the end of the 19th century the Chartered companies enacted a forced labour policy and supplied cheap—often forced—African labour to the mines and plantations of the nearby British colonies and South Africa.[14] The Zambezia Company, the most profitable chartered company, took over a number of smaller prazeiro holdings, and established military outposts to protect its property. The chartered companies built roads and ports to bring their goods to market including a railroad linking present day Zimbabwe with the Mozambican port of Beira.  

Due to their unsatisfactory performance and the shift, under the corporatist Estado Novo regime of Oliveira Salazar, towards a stronger Portuguese control of Portuguese Empire's economy, the companies' concessions were not renewed when they ran out. This was what happened in 1942 with the Mozambique Company, which however continued to operate in the agricultural and commercial sectors as a corporation, and had already happened in 1929 with the termination of the Niassa Company's concession. In 1951, the Portuguese overseas colonies in Africa were rebranded as Overseas Provinces of Portugal.  

Mozambican War of Independence (1964–1974) As communist and anti-colonial ideologies spread out across Africa, many clandestine political movements were established in support of Mozambican independence. These movements claimed that since policies and development plans were primarily designed by the ruling authorities for the benefit of Mozambique's Portuguese population, little attention was paid to Mozambique's tribal integration and the development of its native communities.  

According to the official guerrilla statements, this affected a majority of the indigenous population who suffered both state-sponsored discrimination and enormous social pressure. Many felt they had received too little opportunity or resources to upgrade their skills and improve their economic and social situation to a degree comparable to that of the Europeans. Statistically, Mozambique's Portuguese whites were indeed wealthier and more skilled than the black indigenous majority. As a response to the guerrilla movement, the Portuguese government from the 1960s and principally the early 1970s, initiated gradual changes with new socioeconomic developments and egalitarian policies for all. 

The Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) initiated a guerrilla campaign against Portuguese rule in September 1964. This conflict—along with the two others already initiated in the other Portuguese colonies of Angola and Portuguese Guinea—became part of the so-called Portuguese Colonial War (1961–1974). From a military standpoint, the Portuguese regular army maintained control of the population centres while the guerrilla forces sought to undermine their influence in rural and tribal areas in the north and west. As part of their response to FRELIMO, the Portuguese government began to pay more attention to creating favourable conditions for social development and economic growth.  

Independence (1975)

FRELIMO took control of the territory after 10 years of sporadic warfare, as well as Portugal's own return to democracy after the fall of the authoritarian Estado Novo regime the Carnation Revolution of April 1974, and the failed coup of 25 November 1975. Within a year, most of the 250,000 Portuguese in Mozambique had left—some expelled by the government of the nearly independent territory, some fleeing in fear—and Mozambique became independent from Portugal on 25 June 1975. A law had been passed on the initiative of the relatively unknown Armando Guebuza of the FRELIMO party, ordering the Portuguese to leave the country in 24 hours with only 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of luggage. Unable to salvage any of their assets, most of them returned to Portugal penniless.  Mozambican Civil War (1977–1992)

The new government under president Samora Machel established a one-party state based on Marxist principles. It received diplomatic and some military support from Cuba and the Soviet Union and proceeded to crack down on opposition.  Starting shortly after the independence, the country was plagued from 1977 to 1992 by a long and violent civil war between the opposition forces of anti-Communist Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) rebel militias and the FRELIMO regime. This conflict characterised the first decades of Mozambican independence, combined with sabotage from the neighbouring states of Rhodesia and South Africa, ineffective policies, failed central planning, and the resulting economic collapse. This period was also marked by the exodus of Portuguese nationals and Mozambicans of Portuguese heritage,  a collapsed infrastructure, lack of investment in productive assets, and government nationalisation of privately owned industries, as well as widespread famine. 

During most of the civil war, the FRELIMO-formed central government was unable to exercise effective control outside of urban areas, many of which were cut off from the capital.  RENAMO-controlled areas included up to 50 per cent of the rural areas in several provinces, and it is reported that health services of any kind were isolated from assistance for years in those areas. The problem worsened when the government cut back spending on health care.  The war was marked by mass human rights violations from both sides of the conflict, with RENAMO contributing to the chaos through the use of terror and indiscriminate targeting of civilians. The central government executed tens of thousands of people while trying to extend its control throughout the country and sent many people to "re-education camps" where thousands died.   During the war, RENAMO proposed a peace agreement based on the secession of RENAMO-controlled northern and western territories as the independent Republic of Rombesia, but FRELIMO refused, insisting on the undivided sovereignty of the entire country. An estimated one million Mozambicans perished during the civil war, 1.7 million took refuge in neighbouring states, and several million more were internally displaced.  The FRELIMO regime also gave shelter and support to South African (African National Congress) and Zimbabwean (Zimbabwe African National Union) rebel movements, while the governments of Rhodesia and later South Africa (at that time still apartheid) backed RENAMO in the civil war.  

On 19 October 1986, Samora Machel was on his way back from an international meeting in Zambia in the presidential Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft when the plane crashed in the Lebombo Mountains near Mbuzini. There were ten survivors, but President Machel and thirty-three others died, including ministers and officials of the Mozambique government. The United Nations' Soviet delegation issued a minority report contending that their expertise and experience had been undermined by the South Africans. Representatives of the Soviet Union advanced the theory that the plane had been intentionally diverted by a false navigational beacon signal, using a technology provided by military intelligence operatives of the South African government. 

Machel's successor Joaquim Chissano implemented sweeping changes in the country, starting reforms such as changing from Marxism to capitalism, and began peace talks with RENAMO. The new constitution enacted in 1990 provided for a multi-party political system, market-based economy, and free elections. The civil war ended in October 1992 with the Rome General Peace Accords, first brokered by the Christian Council of Mozambique (Council of Protestant Churches) and then taken over by Community of Sant'Egidio. Peace returned to Mozambique, under supervision of the ONUMOZ peacekeeping force of the United Nations.  Democratic era (1993–present)

.Mozambique held elections in 1994, which were accepted by most political parties as free and fair although still contested by many nationals and observers alike. FRELIMO won, under Joaquim Chissano, while RENAMO, led by Afonso Dhlakama, ran as the official opposition. 

In 1995, Mozambique joined the Commonwealth of Nations, becoming, at the time, the only member nation that had never been part of the British Empire. 

By mid-1995, over 1.7 million refugees who had sought asylum in neighbouring countries had returned to Mozambique, part of the largest repatriation witnessed in sub-Saharan Africa. An additional four million internally displaced persons had returned to their homes.  

In December 1999, Mozambique held elections for a second time since the civil war, which were again won by FRELIMO. RENAMO accused FRELIMO of fraud, and threatened to return to civil war, but backed down after taking the matter to the Supreme Court and losing. 

In early 2000, a cyclone caused widespread flooding in the country, killing hundreds and devastating the already precarious infrastructure. There were widespread suspicions that foreign aid resources had been diverted by powerful leaders of FRELIMO. Carlos Cardoso, a journalist investigating these allegations, was murdered, and his death was never satisfactorily explained. 

Indicating in 2001 that he would not run for a third term, Chissano criticised leaders who stayed on longer than he had, which was generally seen as a reference to Zambian president Frederick Chiluba, who at the time was considering a third term, and Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, then in his fourth term. Presidential and National Assembly elections took place on 1–2 December 2004. FRELIMO candidate Armando Guebuza won with 64% of the popular vote, while his opponent, Afonso Dhlakama of RENAMO, received 32 per cent of the popular vote.

FRELIMO won 160 seats in Parliament, with a coalition of RENAMO and several small parties winning the 90 remaining seats. Guebuza was inaugurated as the President of Mozambique on 2 February 2005, and served two five-year terms. His successor, Filipe Nyusi, became the 4th President of Mozambique on 15 January 2015. 

Since 2013, a low-intensity insurgency by RENAMO has been occurring, mainly in the country's central and northern regions. On 5 September 2014, former president Guebuza and the leader of RENAMO Dhlakama signed the Accord on Cessation of Hostilities, which brought the military hostilities to a halt and allowed both parties to concentrate on the general elections to be held in October 2014. However, after the general elections, a new political crisis emerged and the country appears to be once again on the brink of violent conflict. RENAMO does not recognise the validity of the election results, and demands the control of six provinces – Nampula, Niassa, Tete, Zambezia, Sofala, and Manica – where they claim to have won a majority.  About 12,000 refugees are now in neighbouring Malawi.  The UNHCR, Doctors Without Borders, and Human Rights Watch have reported that government forces have torched villages and carried out summary executions and sexual abuses.  

At 309,475 sq mi (801,537 km2), Mozambique is the world's 36th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Turkey. Mozambique is located on the southeast coast of Africa. It is bound by Swaziland to the south, South Africa to the southwest, Zimbabwe to the west, Zambia and Malawi to the northwest, Tanzania to the north and the Indian Ocean to the east. Mozambique lies between latitudes 10° and 27°S, and longitudes 30° and 41°E. 

The country is divided into two topographical regions by the Zambezi River. To the north of the Zambezi River, the narrow coastal strip gives way to inland hills and low plateaus. Rugged highlands are further west; they include the Niassa highlands, Namuli or Shire highlands, Angonia highlands, Tete highlands and the Makonde plateau, covered with miombo woodlands. To the south of the Zambezi River, the lowlands are broader with the Mashonaland plateau and Lebombo Mountains located in the deep south. 

The country is drained by five principal rivers and several smaller ones with the largest and most important the Zambezi. The country has four notable lakes: Lake Nyasa   Lake Chiuta, Lake Cahora Bassa and Lake Shirwa, all in the north. The major cities are Maputo, Beira, Nampula, Tete, Quelimane, Chimoio, Pemba, Inhambane, Xai-Xai and Lichinga.  

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