The back-to-back cyclones that have ravaged Mozambique are unprecedented in recorded history, the U.N. said Friday. As more villages are wiped away, a multi-billion dollar bidding war is heating up in foreign board rooms among multinationals eager to extract Mozambican oil. Top bid so far by Occidental Petroleum Corp has reached $57 billion.
The fantastic sums changing hands are between Anadarko, which owns the wells, and Chevron and Occidental, hopeful buyers. Donations for relief and rescue, however, are far below satisfactory, according to foreign charitable organizations such as CARE.
“So far, we have only reached a fraction of those in need due to our limited budget and the challenges in reaching the affected by road as most of the countryside is flooded,” said Daw Mohamed, CARE’s humanitarian director.
“Our key priority for now is to support women and children, who are sleeping in open spaces where they are vulnerable to different types of gender-based violence and harassment.”
Last month, Anadarko scraped together $200,000 as a donation for the cyclone victims. “Given the scale of the natural disasters currently affecting Mozambique and the urgency of addressing immediate emergency needs, Anadarko-led Mozambique LNG has today committed to donate U.S. $200,000 to support the victims of the natural disasters,” the multi-billion-dollar firm pledged.
More relief aid is slated to come from the U.N., which will grant Mozambique $13 million in emergency funds to help cope with the massive flooding and destruction caused by Cyclone Kenneth. The International Monetary Fund is also kicking in a $118.2 million credit facility. The World Bank estimates that Mozambique and other countries affected by the tropical storm will need over $2 billion to recover.
Last week, a second cyclone smashed into northern Mozambique. It hit an area “where no tropical cyclone has been observed since the satellite era,” the World Meteorological Organization said in a statement.
The situation in northern Mozambique is worse than thought, a U.N. spokesman said, days after Cyclone Kenneth ravaged the country.
Winds of 140 mph flattened whole villages. Around 700,000 people are now thought to be at risk in the area as torrential rains continue.
Mozambique sits seventh on the table of poorest countries in the world and has an undisclosed debt worth $1.4 billion. Ironically, early this year, calls for the suspension of natural gas projects and investment in more pressing issues were met with gunfire from Mozambican soldiers.