Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria (which continues to hit the Caribbean), have put the well-being of hundreds of thousands of children in danger. A few highlights of UNICEF’s initial response include: Two airlifts have provided relief supplies for Cuba, Turks and Caicos. In ECA, 30,000 people have been reached with WASH supplies. 6,500 children, mainly in Barbuda and TCI, are beginning to benefit from UNICEF’s response in WASH, recreational kits, educational material and psychosocial support (PSS) through the Return to Happiness programme. Water purification tablets, oral rehydration salts, tents, family hygiene and dignity kits have been distributed to Dominica. In Cuba, UNICEF has distributed 3 million chlorine purifying tablets to government authorities for ~44,000 people and action is underway to provide chlorine tablets, jerry cans, hygiene kits, hygiene messaging and psycho-social support to affected populations. In Haiti, $2.5M in supplies and cash has been utilized for WASH, water systems repair, chlorination of wells, provision of education supplies and clean-up of schools for the back to school campaign. Cholera rapid response teams have been deployed to flooded areas. Prepositioned plumpy-nut distributed as supplementary nutrition to affected children. The distribution of school kits is in progress for 5,000 children in the most affected schools of the northwest. Across the region, traditional, social and multi-media messaging is focused on the need for child protection in emergencies.
Situation in numbers
+339,000 estimated # children in need of immediate assistance
45,000 children at risk from hurricane Maria in ECA,
with 20,000 children potentially affected in Dominica
2,262 schools affected in Cuba
132 schools affected in Anguilla, Barbuda, BVI and TCI Islands
Estimated funding needs:
Hurricane Maria, another Category 5 hurricane, is currently following a similar path to Irma, having made landfall in the Leeward Islands of Dominica, Guadalupe and Martinique on the evening on 18 September, and it will continue on through the Eastern Caribbean hitting Puerto Rico, northern Dominican Republic and TCI over the following few days. UNICEF and partners are working simultaneously on responding to Irma whilst preparing for Maria.
Initial reports show very high levels of destruction to the islands of Dominica due to Hurricane Maria. Classes that were meant to restart on Monday 18 September were postponed in Antigua.
The level of need could rise drastically over the next few days.
Needs assessment has been completed in Haiti. There has been no increase in cases of cholera reported since Irma.
13 out of 15 provinces in Cuba have been affected by Irma.
Needs assessment has confirmed there is no requirement for international assistance to respond to Irma in Dominican Republic. However, heavy rains and a tropical wave have caused flooding in the country, and more rain is anticipated with Maria.
Stay safe information sent to 17,000 U-Reporters, and over 2,400 individual questions about Maria responded to it under 24 hours
Whilst needs assessments after Irma continue and are completed, attention has turned to Hurricane Maria, another Category 5 Hurricane that is following a similar trajectory to Irma. In islands affected by Irma in the Eastern Caribbean, Dominican Republic and Cuba, recovery continues simultaneously with preparedness activities, and the anticipated return to school for many students has been halted. Needs assessments have been completed in Dominican Republic and confirm that Irma brought less damage than originally predicted, but heavy rains and a tropical wave have brought flooding to parts of the country. In Cuba, the assessment relies on Government information. There is concern that a large proportion of crops has been damaged, affecting future food security. It is anticipated that numbers of children in need will increase over the next few days as Maria continues on its path.
Humanitarian Leadership and Coordination
National response to the emergency is ongoing led by each National Government and their respective sectorial Ministries. UNICEF COs continue to actively participating in coordination meetings and providing technical assistance.
o In Cuba, a CERF request has been prepared with focus on Education and WASH. This will include early childhood development, education and recreation activities for socio-emotional support.
o UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Office is fully engaged with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) response mechanism to conduct the rapid assessment.
UNICEF LACRO has taken part in regional coordination meetings led by OCHA where sector actions and operation mechanisms for the response are being analyzed and agreed. A Regional Response Plan for some the countries affected by the Hurricane finished and disseminated.
UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Office is coordinating closely with all local authorities, including those of the affected British Overseas Territories which are considered under the Eastern Caribbean Multi-Country Programme (British Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands and Anguilla). The islands being part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands and part of France are receiving direct support from the government of The Netherlands and of France. Where requested, UNICEF LACRO is providing advice to the UNICEF NatComs.
The Education Regional Group has met and shared information about presence and response actions in the affected countries.