GENEVA, March 26 (Xinhua) -- The head of the International Organization for Migration(IOM) on Tuesday said that Cyclone Idai which has left 1.85 million people in dire humanitarian need in three countries is a "massive humanitarian emergency."
At UN briefing here, IOM spokesperson Leonard Doyle quoted IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino as saying, "The cyclone's impact caused loss of life and left extensive destruction in its path...For IOM and the broader international community, this is a massive humanitarian emergency."
The IOM said the full impact on Mozambique, where the death toll stands at 446, with over 109,000 displaced, is expected to increase, because of widespread destruction to farmland and fisheries.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said in New York Tuesday that the death toll across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe was at least 700, but with hundreds still missing.
"At least one million children need urgent assistance -- and this number may well grow. We fear that whole villages have been washed away in places we have yet to reach," said the UN chief.
The UN said there are reports that 1 billion U.S. dollars worth of infrastructure has been destroyed in the three affected countries.
The aftermath of the cyclone is expected to create food insecurity for the affected population over the coming months, said UN agencies.
"Given its devastating impact, Cyclone Idai could rank as the worst disaster to hit the region in decades," said Doyle.
The cyclone made landfall on March 14 and caused widespread destruction in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique, all neighboring countries.
Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, had said the day before at the UN in Geneva, "As flood waters recede, hundreds of thousands of people still lack water, shelter and health care.
"We now see even more clearly the real consequences of this disaster."
Katharina Schnoering, chief of mission for IOM Mozambique, the worst-affected country, was quoted as saying "During crises like Cyclone Idai, many people flee their homes, exacerbating the health risks.
"It is very important to ensure that people receiving treatment can continue to receive support, particularly those displaced and unable to access their homes and normal health services."
Herve Verhoosel, World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson said, "Significant infrastructural damage has been reported, with major roads rendered impassable in Mozambique. Power networks have been severed and are unlikely to be restored for several weeks."