Wednesday 21 August 2019

Ben Fogle: Don’t be wary of giving to charity for Cyclone Idai

Strong winds and widespread flooding ripped apart roads, bridges, and buildings and submerged agricultural land.

Ben Fogle (Caroline Irby/British Red Cross/PA)
Ben Fogle (Caroline Irby/British Red Cross/PA)

By Emma Bowden, Press Association

Ben Fogle is asking the public not to be suspicious of donating to charity as he visits people affected by Cyclone Idai.

The TV presenter and British Red Cross ambassador broke off filming for an upcoming series in southern Africa to visit Mozambique.

Cyclone Idai left a trail of destruction across areas of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe last month, affecting an estimated three million people.

The broadcaster broke off filming for an upcoming series to visit the region (Caroline Irby/British Red Cross/PA)

Fogle told the Press Association: “I think there’s a suspicion about aid in general.

“There are people who are critical of aid being given out in various countries, I think there are some people who believe it’s held the development of some nations back.

“I don’t entirely believe that but a natural disaster is a very different circumstance.

“The money here is going to be extremely focused, it’s genuinely helping people who have lost everything.”

The Red Cross is supporting over 200,000 people in Mozambique (Caroline Irby/British Red Cross/PA)

Strong winds and widespread flooding ripped apart roads, bridges, and buildings and submerged agricultural land.

Aid agencies are now working hard to manage outbreaks of cholera and malaria in the region, with the British Red Cross sending a team of volunteers to provide safe toilets and washing facilities.

Fogle, whose career in broadcasting started nearly 20 years ago in Castaway 2000, is known for hosting programmes including the BBC’s Countryfile and ITV’s Countrywise.

He said he decided to approach the British Red Cross to show people their donations make a difference.

After speaking to survivors and helping to hand out supplies in Beira, a city near the cyclone’s epicentre, he said there were still communities and villages yet to receive aid more than three weeks after the disaster.

The 45-year-old said: “I met one elderly lady, a 75-year-old called Celeste, and she had lost her home in the cyclone in the first few hours.

“She went to shelter with a neighbour and watched in horror as the house collapsed on her neighbour’s eight-year-old son, killing him.

“They retreated to a village nearby, which also collapsed. They then endured the rest of the storm outside, exposed to the full wrath of Cyclone Idai.

“It brought home just what the people here have experienced and endured and what I think people have to remember is that the storm hits a community with very basic housing in the first place.”

The British Red Cross has raised more than £1.1 million for the survivors of Cyclone Idai in south-eastern Africa, but more support is urgently needed.

To donate to their Cyclone Idai appeal, go to www.redcross.org.uk/idai

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