Cyclone Winston, Fiji: UNICEF eyewitness update

News and Press Release
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In the wake of Cyclone Winston, UNICEF's main concern is for children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers across Fiji.  Little is yet known about the status of communities living on the outer islands of Fiji that were directly under the eye of Tropical Cyclone Winston- as communications remain down for many. 

The Government is rapidly working to assess the overall situation in order to pinpoint the critical needs.  The Fijian Government has declared a state of natural disaster for the next 30 days and has initiated the clean-up process by clearing the huge amounts of debris scattered everywhere.  

Alice Clements, a Communications Specialist with UNICEF Pacific, said from her base in Suva, Fiji, “The amount of destruction to infrastructure, livelihoods and homes that something like this can do is just immense. It can also completely destroy or severely damage school facilities and health facilities. 

"Imagine the situation of a family that lives low near a river in a tin shack. They have crops that they grow and depend on to survive. It’s very possible that a cyclone has destroyed those through water logging. Those same crops are ones that they would sell at the market to make some income. So if their house has been destroyed from flash flooding from the nearby river, then that leaves no food, no home, and no livelihood. It’s likely too that children's educations will be affected by these family setbacks.  

"If we are talking about a worst case scenario, in addition to injuries and loss of life, you have a situation where peoples entire lives, top to bottom, have been turned upside down.” 

UNICEF staff members are standing by to assist as required. 

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UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
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For more information or to arrange an interview contact:
Alice Clements UNICEF Pacific, +679 992 5606  
Rose Foley, UNICEF New York, +1 917 340-2582