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Hurricane Matthew poses threat to 6 million children

More than 6 million children may be at risk as the Atlantic’s strongest storm in years makes its way through Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. With its heavy rains and ensuing flooding, landslides, mudslides or collapse of homes, the storm could have a potentially devastating impact on already vulnerable communities.

While we wait to assess the full impact of Hurricane Matthew, UNICEF has activated its emergency response plans to ensure the safety and protection of children and their families.

“Whenever disaster strikes, UNICEF is there ready to respond rapidly with the things children need most – food, clean water, medicine, protection,” said Dave Spedding, Chief Operating Officer for UNICEF Canada. “Children are always the most vulnerable and we must not wait to find out the full extent of the damage before we take action.”

The storm, carrying winds of up to 140 mph, is expected to cause significant destruction in Haiti, which is still rebuilding from the earthquake in 2010.

“This is the worst storm Haiti has seen in decades and the damage will no doubt be significant,” said Marc Vincent, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. “Water-borne diseases are the first threat to children in similar situations - our first priority is to make sure children have enough safe water.”

UNICEF has mobilized emergency staff and supplies for those in the hardest hit regions. Pre-positioned supplies are ready to be deployed from local warehouses and from our global supply centre. This includes clean water, medical supplies, life-saving food, tents for shelter and schools, hygiene kits, school-in-a-boxes and water purification tablets.

UNICEF offices regionally are standing by ready to support national and local governments with water, sanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition, child protection and education.

"This is an extremely dangerous storm and represents a great risk for the most vulnerable children of the countries in its path. Sadly, there will be many children that tomorrow won't have access to clean water, shelter, schools and the protection they have today," said Maria Cristina Perceval, Regional Director for UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean.

UNICEF works to keep all children safe in times of emergency. You can make a secure donation now to help us protect and support the children and families affected by Hurricane Matthew.