UN struggling to help storm-stricken Caribbean


With four hurricanes hitting the Caribbean in a less than a month, the United Nations yesterday expressed “deep concern” over the struggle to bring aide to the crisis-stricken region.

According to the UN’s humanitarian wing, Hurricane Ike, the latest of the deadly storms, has killed over 40 people in Cabaret, a village near Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, adding to the 500 deaths in the northern port city of Gonaïves as a result of Hurricane Hanna last week.

“The UN is already distributing food and potable water [in the wake of Hanna],” said Elizabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In Haiti, according to UN, some 800,000 have been affected by the flooding and lethal mudslides, UN agencies are mobilizing their relief efforts by providing emergency food assistance, water, purification tablets, blankets and other supplies.

“The World Food Program has distributed over 170 tons, 60,000 liters in bottle of potable water, 80,000 liters of potable water, hygiene kits and plastic sheeting. But we are very worried because some parts of the city are completely flooded,” Ms. Byrs said in an interview with UN Radio.

In the interview with UN Radio, Ms. Byrs also reported that a humanitarian crisis is emerging in the city of Camak, where many Haitians have taken refuge as floods inundated almost 85 percent of nearby Gonaïves. “We have a logistical nightmare because of the destruction of the roads. The two major roads to Gonaïves are blocked by fallen trees and debris, and a bridge collapsed on the only road which was accessible to light trucks,” the OCHA spokesperson added.

The UN also said it has also offered humanitarian assistance to Cuba, where OCHA is preparing an emergency cash grant as well as an application to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). “The country is currently being battered by Hurricane Ike, but hundreds of people have already been evacuated as a result of Hurricane Gustav, which caused significant damage to over 140,000 homes, schools and hospitals at the end of last month,” the UN said.

According to Ms. Byrs, OCHA is waiting on the assessment of Ike’s impact on Cuba. “You can imagine the desolation and the damage to this country. There is [already] no electricity. There is no communication.”

Source: UNNews