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For Some Caribbean Countries, It’s Time To Pick Up The Pieces After Hurricane Elsa

KINGSTOWN — While Hurricane Elsa is currently battering the Caribbean, UNICEF has prepositioned humanitarian supplies for vulnerable families in all countries likely to be affected.

Across the hurricane-hit Caribbean, extreme rainfall and winds are expected to cause infrastructure damage and potential interruption of basic services this weekend in Eastern Caribbean countries, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica, especially in vulnerable coastal areas.

“Hurricane Elsa is the first hurricane of the season, but it certainly won’t be the last one,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Heavy rainfalls and strong winds have now left some parts of the Caribbean without water, electricity and internet. And more are forecast this weekend. Flooding is a real threat now for the most vulnerable families in the next few days. Our teams across the Caribbean are prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to families in need.”

Together with its partners, UNICEF has prepositioned lifesaving supplies and provided services to children and families in several Caribbean countries ahead of the hurricane season:

  • In Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, several stocks of water, hygiene and sanitation supplies to reach 13,600 people, as well as tents, and educational and recreational kits for thousands of children.
  • In Jamaica, about 380 recreational kits for 10,000 children.
  • In Cuba, over 3,150 personal hygiene kits. About 12,835 collapsible water tanks as well as educational and recreational kits to reach 6,500 children are expected to arrive next week.
  • In Haiti, nearly 10,000 sanitation and hygiene kits, 60 water tanks, 4,474 tarpaulins, 56,946 school bags, 2,380 school-in-a-box kits, and 200 educational kits and 200 recreational kits, 13,600 mosquito nets, 5,000 solar lamps, 1,500 mattresses, 5,000 blankets and 5,000 clothing kits to immediately respond to the needs of 15,000 children and women.
  • In the Dominican Republic, UNICEF stands ready to support 8,000 families with cash transfer via the national social protection system.
  • In the Panama -based United Nations warehouse, humanitarian supplies are ready to be shipped to the Caribbean, including about 5 million water purification tablets, 21 large collapsible water tanks (5,000L and 10,000L), 97,000 insecticide mosquito nets, over 400 water and hygiene kits, more than 865 education box/cartons, 786 recreation kits, 260 plastic sheets, 22 plastic tarpaulin rolls.

“Even in the event of a natural disaster, containing the spread of the virus and supporting vaccinations should remain a priority in the Caribbean,” said Jean Gough. “We are concerned that extreme weather conditions during the hurricane season could severely delay the rollout of ongoing vaccination campaigns across the region in a critical moment in the fight against COVID-19.”

This year, UNICEF has appealed for US$25.8 million to prepare and respond to emergencies across the Caribbean, including in Eastern Caribbean countries, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Suriname and Jamaica. So far only US$8.5M has been received, leaving a funding gap of 64 per cent.

In addition to this, for Haiti, the most vulnerable country in the region, UNICEF has called for $48.9M. So far less than 40 per cent of the required funding has been received.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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