Hurricane Matthew: UNICEF on full alert and ready to respond
Many thousands of children are in danger as Hurricane Matthew races towards the Caribbean. The hurricane is due to hit the densely populated islands of Cuba and Jamaica. UNICEF is on full alert and has activated its disaster plans for children.
Hurricane Matthew has been strengthened to a Category Four tropical storm and is expected to hit the Caribbean this weekend with Jamaica and Cuba most likely to be hardest hit.
In any disaster, children are the most vulnerable. Children often make up almost half of the population at risk.
Latin America and the Caribbean region are highly vulnerable and exposed to climate-related disasters such as tropical storms, hurricanes and drought.
Children have already faced danger this year as a strong El Niño has had a wide and profound impact on their lives.
UNICEF has been working for children in Jamaica for more than 39 years, and in Cuba for more than 24 years. We are on standby and poised to respond for children affected by the hurricane. We are doing this in a variety of ways, including the following:
- We are already in preparedness mode to keep children and families safe from the storm and are working closely with the government and other humanitarian agencies to ensure coordination of aid assistance.
- We have pre-positioned and stockpiled life-saving supplies. This includes clean water, medical supplies, life-saving food, tents for shelter and schools, hygiene kits, school-in-a-boxes and water purification tablets.
- Supplies are also ready to be deployed from our global supply centre in Copenhagen.
- UNICEF in the region has been promoting child-focused protocols within disaster management policies and procedures in the region.
- UNICEF Cuba and Jamaica are standing by ready to support national and local governments in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition, child protection and education.
So that we can continue to be there for every child in danger, we have a fund for Hurricane Matthew Emergency Relief Fund. When disaster strikes, UNICEF is ready to respond rapidly to deliver life-saving food, medicine and water, education and protection services so children in danger get the help they need, and can recover fast and resilient. We rely on money from our Children in Emergencies fund to do this. And we rely on donations from the Canadian public to keep the fund alive and enable us to respond to emergencies, whenever they come, and whatever their size.