“I pray for deceased, injured, displaced”: Pope Francis amid Cyclone Freddy in Malawi

Pope Francis prays with journalists on a papal flight August 14, 2014. | Alan Holdren/CNA

Pope Francis has expressed his prayerful solidarity with the people of God in Malawi following the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which has reportedly claimed the lives of at least “400 people in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar since it first made landfall in Africa”, according to Reuters.

“At least 53 people have died in Mozambique and 326 in Malawi since the weekend, according to government figures. The storm had already killed about 27 people in Madagascar and Mozambique before it lashed Mozambique a second time,” Reuters has reported Thursday, March 16. 

The cyclone that first hit Malawi on March 12 is also responsible for the displacement of at least 88,000 people in the Southern African nation.  

"I am close to the people of Malawi who have been hit, in recent days, by a very strong cyclone," Pope Francis said Wednesday, March 15, during his General Audience.

“I pray for the deceased, the injured, the displaced,” the Holy Father said, and added, “May the Lord support the families and communities most tried by this calamity.”


Malawi’s capital, Blantyre, has been most affected by the cyclone, which the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has described as a “very rare” storm with an “incredible and dangerous” journey.

Following the natural disaster, Malawi’s President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared two weeks of national mourning. 

“In view of the extent of the loss of life caused by this disaster, I have directed that all of us as a nation observe 14 days of mourning and that all flags fly at half-mast for the first seven of those days," President Chakwera said in his March 15 address to the nation. 

The Malawian President said his Cabinet authorized the release of 1.6 billion Malawian Kwacha ($1.5 million) to assist victims of the tropical storm, which mostly affected the Southern parts of the country. 

"I can already tell you that this money will not be nearly enough. The level of devastation we are dealing with here is greater than the resources we have at our disposal,” he said.

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Earlier, on March 14, Catholic Bishops in the country appealed for aid to assist victims of what has been described as the longest-lived cyclone on record. 

The members of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) asked all people of goodwill “to stand and feel with the victims of this devastating cyclone and immediately start to donate whatever they can, in form of money and in kind, to help the victims who have been affected and are suffering from the effects of the cyclone.”

The Catholic Bishops asked that the collected donations be distributed to those in need “as soon as possible”. 

ECM members also called on Malawians dwelling in flood - and disaster-prone areas to move to safer grounds. 

Malawi has been affected by tropical cyclones before. Cyclone Freddy comes a year after Tropical Storm Gombe, which claimed the lives of seven Malawians. 


In 2021, Cyclone Ana hit the Southern African nation affecting 994,967, according to the Malawi Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA).  

Like Tropical storms Ana and Gombe, Cyclone Freddy has also affected Mozambique and Madagascar.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.