NAIROBI, Kenya, March 8 (Newsroom)--Rescue operations in Mozambique, ravaged by the worst flooding in memory, are nearly over, and world relief agencies are focusing heavily on providing food and shelter for hundreds of thousands of people left homeless, delegates attending a poverty conference here were told.

Many African nations, some of them affected by cyclone Eline and flooding themselves, were among the first to respond, said Moss Nthla, general secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa. South Africa, in particular, sent rescue helicopters and other aid almost immediately, he told more than 150 church leaders and World Bank officials at the conference sponsored by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa and the bank.

"The rescue operation is almost over," he said. "We're concentrating now on blankets, food, and medicine. There is danger now from malaria and cholera."

World Vision International is caring for nearly 8,000 flood victims in Inhacutse, Xai-Xai district, according to Wilfred Mlay, vice president in charge of Africa. Field reports indicate that hundreds of people have died in Mozambique alone, and an estimated 1.25 million are homeless. More than 250,000 people are crowded into 64 makeshift camps.

More rain is predicted later this week. Damage estimates in southern Africa are $10 billion for crops, livestock, infrastructure, and property.

More than 90 people died in flooding in northern provinces of South Africa. On the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, when officials opened flood gates of the giant Kariba Dam that is the border between the two countries out of fear it would burst, crops downstream were destroyed, other World Vision officials said in a written report.

"Thousands of people in Zambia now face starvation after their crops were destroyed when these gates were opened," the report said.

In Botswana more than 10,000 houses have collapsed. Despite is own losses Botswana offered Mozambique 220,000 gallons of fuel for rescue operations. Zambia contributed $1 million.

While the immediate need is for food, blankets, water, and medicines, World Vision soon will begin partnering with churches in Mozambique to provide crisis counseling and emotional support for people who have lost everything, Mlay told Newsroom.

"It has become very clear that after meeting basic needs there are emotional and spiritual needs," he said. "Emotional and spiritual needs can mitigate against full recovery if they are not met...You start with basic survival needs. As people begin to settle down then you work with local churches to nurture and build spiritual help and counseling."

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