Mozambique: Leaders Call For Debt Cancellation

MAPUTO, Mozambique -- Leaders of the Southern Africa Development
Community Tuesday called on the international community to cancel all foreign
debts owed by Mozambique.

This measure is aimed at ensuring that the country channels all available
resources to the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure and property in the
southern and central regions that were hit by devastating floods in February.

Convened in Maputo at the behest of the community's deputy chairman and
President of Namibia, Sam Nujoma, the extraordinary summit reviewed the impact
of the floods caused by heavy rains and compounded by Cyclone Eline.

"This is the time for the international community to show empathy with the
people of Mozambique by heeding our call for debt cancellation," Botswana
President Festus Mogae said.

"Let me hasten to stress that by asking for debt cancellation for
Mozambique, I'm not for a moment suggesting that all other assistance and
development aid should cease," he stressed, adding that the massive destruction
caused by the floods requires a multi-pronged approach.

It was also agreed that a regional institutional mechanism for disaster
preparedness and management which would provide a timely response to similar
situations should be established.

"This mechanism would also be responsible for mobilising resources that
would be used to obviate the effects of disasters whenever they occur," the
leaders said in a communique.

They urged the international community to provide long term support to such

The communique said that unspecified additional measures are needed to
support the affected populations and to strengthen regional co-ordination
mechanisms in order to trigger off the reconstruction of Mozambique and other
countries affected in the region.

In Mozambique alone, some two million people have been affected by the
floods, including one million in need of assistance.

About 330,000 people were displaced or left homeless, while the confirmed
death toll has risen to 492. This figure continues to rise as more bodies are
found in the receding flood waters.

It is estimated that as many as 10 million people in the four flood-stricken
countries of the region, namely Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and
Zimbabwe, face the risk of transmissible diseases.

2000 Panafrican News Agency

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