Belize: UNICEF Situation Report No. 1

Report
from UN Children's Fund
Published on 20 Oct 2008
- Heavy rainfall associated with Tropical Depression 16 began affecting the southern areas of Belize from the evening of Wednesday October 15. The system produced a lot of rainfall and this resulted in flooding in a number of the flood prone areas of the country. Initial impact to the country was to the southern most districts resulting in the major temporary bridge linking the south to the rest of the country once again being washed away but has been restored since. Heavy rains continued throughout the week and unto the weekend.

- Most affected at this time is the Cayo district where the communities of Benque Viejo, San Jose Succotz, Bullet Tree Falls and Calla Creek have been cut off from the rest of the district and as a result from the entire country. The only bridge linking the western part of the Cayo district to the remainder of the country is also inundated and only passable with very high vehicles. The Western border is also closed only allowing Belizeans returning home or Guatemalans going home due to the flooded Macal River compromising the integrity of the bridge on the Guatemalan side.

- An estimated 73,000 persons live in the western part of the country of which approximately half live in the areas that are directly affected, inclusive of 11,000 children and 16,000 women.

- All classes for the southern, western and parts of the Belize districts were suspended since Thursday and continue to be suspended for the Cayo District only at this time resulting in disruption of classes for some 23, 000 primary and secondary school children.

- Eighty -five persons in the affected areas have been moved to shelters while others have sought shelter with family members in the areas not directly affected.

- It anticipated that losses to the agriculture sector, especially to corn and vegetables will only serve to exacerbate the impact of already high food prices.

- The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) has been activated since Thursday last week and continues to respond at the local level and is presently monitoring the Belize River levels as all the flooding from the Macal and Mopan rivers will flow into the Belize River thereby posing a threat to communities in the Belize River Valley.

- The rivers in the northern district of Orange Walk are also being monitored.

- UNICEF has been in contact with all UN agencies in Belize and all staff are accounted for. Three UNICEF staff members have been unable to report to work due to the flooding in their areas and the fact that the bridge is closed.

- UNICEF has been in touch with the NEMO, Relief and supplies and Damage assessment committees for updates and we are ready to respond upon their request.

- Any future development will be communicated in a timely manner.

For detailed information please contact:

UNICEF Representative and Designated Official (Belize): Ms. Rana Flowers Cellular: + 501 610 2201 E-mail: rflowers@unicef.org

UNICEF Emergency Focal Point Ms Anita Zetina Cellular: +501-610-5054 E-mail: azetina@unicef.org