UNICEF Helps Children as Cyclone Freddy Slams Mozambique

February 24, 2023

Tropical Cyclone Freddy made landfall in the coastal town of Vilanculos, Mozambique, on Feb. 24, bringing strong winds, heavy rains and high seas, endangering children and families. 

UNICEF teams are on the ground, assessing immediate needs and mobilizing the rapid distribution of critical supplies including safe water and water purification supplies, medical supplies, tents and hygiene kits.

The first hours and days are the most critical

"UNICEF teams are fully focused on protecting the tens of thousands of children impacted by this tropical storm and the devastating flooding it is causing," said Maria Luisa Fornara, UNICEF Representative in Mozambique. "The coming hours and days are the most critical, and UNICEF will continue to work around the clock to support those in need."

The first cyclone of the season to reach the equivalent of a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane, Cyclone Freddy weakened to a Category 3 before making landfall in Madagascar on Feb. 21, but regained strength while crossing the Mozambique channel. 

The storm formed near Indonesia on Feb. 5 and traveled 4,000 miles west, making it one of the longest lasting systems in the southern hemisphere, one of only four to traverse the entire Southern Indian Ocean, according to the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations weather agency. 

The agency warned that there is a potential of widespread flooding in an area already saturated by unusually heavy seasonal rains. Climate shock has increased global temperatures, causing extreme weather events in southeast Africa. In 2022, storms and cyclones caused destruction in central Mozambique, while southern provinces suffered from drought conditions.

UNICEF rushed prepositioned supplies to aid children and families as Cyclone Freddy made landfall in Mozambique on Feb. 24, 2023. © UNICEF/UN0792149/Fauvrelle

Children are most impacted by severe weather events 

When climate-related severe weather events hit, children suffer most. Almost half (an estimated 46.3 percent) of Mozambique's children are growing up in multi-dimensional poverty.

Whenever and wherever children are in need, UNICEF is there to help — before, during and after emergencies. In 2022, UNICEF teams rushed to support vulnerable children and their families when Tropical Storm Ana hit central and northern Mozambique. In 2021, UNICEF aided those in urgent need after Cyclone Eloise caused severe flooding, threatening a population still recovering from Cyclone Idai.

Every year, UNICEF responds to hundreds of emergencies in dozens of countries. Your unrestricted contribution helps UNICEF stay at the ready to help children when they need it most. Please donate.


Top photo: A man walks along a road during the start of strong winds and rain after Cyclone Freddy made landfall in the tourist town of Vilanculos, in the province of Inhambane, Mozambique, on Feb. 24, 2023. © UNICEF/UN0792156/