Cuba + 2 more

Caribbean Hurricane Season OCHA Situation Report No. 16

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Situation Report
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Posted
Originally published

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This situation report is based on information received from, the UN Emergency Technical Team (UNETT) in the affected countries, the Regional Office in Panama and the National Hurricane Centre. This situation report covers the effects of Hurricanes "Gustav", "Hanna" and "Ike" in the Caribbean.

HIGHLIGHTS

- In Haiti, the humanitarian community is emphasizing its concern about the lack of repairs of bridges and roads that is hampering life-saving relief operations. Support to the Flash Appeal is urgently needed.

- In Haiti, but also all over the region, the biggest concern at this stage is the extreme vulnerability to heavy rains.

- In Cuba, some 500,000 houses have been damaged of which 63,000 are totally destroyed. The infrastructure and the agriculture have sustained significant damage.

- Some 2,800 vulnerable people require longer term assistance in Grand Turk and South Caicos.

SITUATION

1. After tropical storms and hurricanes "Fay", "Gustav", "Hanna" and "Ike" have affected the Caribbean region and the United Sates, a tropical wave continues to produce a large area of showers and a few thunderstorms over the Lesser Antilles. Significant development of this system does not appear likely during the next couple of days as it moves slowly but locally heavy rains could continue over portions of the Windward and Leeward Islands and may still impact Hispaniola.

2. The vulnerability throughout the Caribbean countries has increased dramatically with another 3 months left before the end of the hurricane season. Only little rain can have serious consequences. The region has been affected since 15 August successively by tropical storm Fay, hurricanes "Gustav", "Hanna" and "Ike" that claimed in the Caribbean more than 350 lives so far, affecting more than 3.1 million persons and damaging more than 550,000 houses- while assessments are still on going.

HAITI

3. There is a steady increase in distribution of food and non-food items, particularly in Gonaives. Assessments are being completed in affected areas with limited access, including the departments of Artibonite, Nippes and the Southeast. Overall coordination with the government and within the international assistance community continues and clusters are being strengthened.

4. However, the provision of adequate assistance to people in temporary shelters and the planning of future steps for them remains a challenge. With the start of the school year early October, it will become urgent to free schools currently used as shelters Temporary and semi-permanent shelters are options being discussed with the government and affected communities. Similarly, places of origin are being assessed and discussed with the government to identify resettlement options.

5. Another important challenge is the need to continue focusing on early recovery activities in parallel with lifesaving relief operations. Efforts to ensure access to the affected population, to strengthen the temporary dykes of the river passing through Gonaives, the removal of debris/mud and immediate measures to address irrigation systems are becoming critical. In particular, the humanitarian community is emphasizing its concern about the lack of repairs of bridges and roads that is hampering life-saving relief operations.

6. The biggest concern at this stage -three months from the end of the hurricane season- is the extreme vulnerability to heavy rains. These could yield disastrous consequences given the fact that coping mechanisms are already stretched and environmental degradation is very high. For the time being, the Ministry of Finance announced a renewable three-month suspension of some customs clearance formalities for food and non-food humanitarian assistance, as well as the establishment of special crisis management cells in all customs offices.

7. On 19 September, the Flash Appeal will be presented jointly by the government and the UN system locally in Haiti.

Food

8. Relief response to date has reached 245,311 persons with 1,042MT distributed. Food assistance needs were identified in Port de Paix. WFP is distributing some 5,9MT of food assistance to 200 families in St-Louis du Nord in collaboration with DPC and Caritas. Some 100MT of food commodities are also being sent by boat from WFP stocks in Cap Haitien for distributions in Port de Paix. In the Sud department, 24,000 families were identified as being in need of food assistance following the joint WFP/CSNA/partners assessment mission carried out the past weekend. Food deliveries and distributions are being planned accordingly with Caritas and DPC. Under the new special air operation, WFP has contracted a Ukrainian crew of 20 pilots and four MA8 helicopters to facilitate food deliveries. They are expected to arrive this week.

9. Distributions are increasing in Gonaives with two distributions per day. With regard to stock replenishment a local barge left Port au Prince with 20 containers of WFP food and non-food-items from agency partners. In addition, 100MT of beans are being sent from Cap Haitien on boat to Gonaives. With rain still coming down, the people in Gonaives are having difficulties shoring up the banks of the river that keeps flooding. WFP has requested 200,000 sand bags from the US Army to strengthen the defense of the river. To date, WFP has distributed 316MT of food assistance (including 27MT of HEB) to some 151,590 beneficiaries in Gonaives. The WFP ICT team has now set up a VHF radio channel with interagency funds used by the UN. An operational interagency radio-room and cybercafé are now in place in Gonaives. WFP and local NGOs are working to launch a website with a Google map pinpointing where shelters and food distribution points are located in the region.

10. WFP, with CNSA, is carrying out an urban assessment in Port-au-Prince on high food prices. The methodology includes interviews with traders and street food vendors (results expected by end of September) and households (results expected by end October). Furthermore, an Emergency Food Security Assessment is being conducted throughout the country in collaboration with CNSA on the impact of the disasters on food security and the agricultural sector. WFP sent monitors to supervise ongoing food distributions in 6 departments. In the South, CARITAS continues distributions of WFP food while Chardonniere, Les Anglais and Tiburon have received 105 MT of food delivered by a Canadian ship.

Nutrition

11. There are no major concerns about the nutritional situation in Gonaives as food distributions are reaching the whole population. It is however recommended to make an assessment on the status of children under five (using MUAC) in all temporary shelters to identified at risk cases. MDM-Suisse, from Grand Goave, reported that WFP food did not reach this isolated area and there is an important concern about the nutritional status of this population (1,000 people). MDM-Suisse is conducting an assessment to identify at-risk cases.

12. The challenge is the lack of partners working in the nutrition sector as well as the absence of partners in the South East and Nippes. Priorities are: the South (covered by Terres des Hommes), South East, Nippes (no assessment plans for the moment). Other areas will be prioritized according to assessments. UNICEF -through its partners- has distributed therapeutic milk for 500 malnourished children in the West, South and Grande Anse departments. Some 6,000 children will also benefit from Oral Rehydration Salts and high protein biscuits. High protein biscuits are distributed for the moment only through partners, targeting children under five, breastfeeding and pregnant women.

13. In Gonaives, the plan is to coordinate with the Direction Sanitaire de l'Artibonite and MSF-Belgique to find human resources and organize the distribution of supplementary food for the most-at-risk groups, and to continue reinforcing nutritional units already in place.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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