DUBLIN, 4 Oct 2016 – Ten million people in Haiti are bracing for the impact of Category 4 Hurricane Matthew, which is expected to make landfall in coming hours.
Hurricane Matthew still poses a dangerous threat to Cuba and the Bahamas, but it is Haiti that is expected to suffer the most – it is under a maximum emergency alert. UNICEF fears for the children of Haiti, thousands of whom are still living in tents and temporary shelters after the 2010 earthquake.
The storm is expected to pass over the southern part of the country in coming hours, bringing with it hurricane force winds and 15-25 inches of rain. As well as heavy rains and high winds – there is a risk of life-threatening floods and mudslides.
Heavy rain and winds have already hit Jamaica, but despite the activation of our local emergency response plan there, the impact has thankfully not been as significant as feared.
Over the past days, UNICEF has been working non-stop with partners, including government, in order to preposition crucial lifesaving supplies for 100,000 people in Haiti. Safe water is our number one priority and we have already delivered water bladders and chlorination tablets.
UNICEF’s Representative on the ground in Haiti, Mark Vincent, is in Port au Prince. He says: “At this point the government has opened up schools and has encouraged people living close to the coastline to move inland and to go to these shelters. The big concern is that their homes will probably not be there after the hurricane passes through.”
“Children are the most vulnerable people in any disaster, our job is to target their needs and offer immediate assistance to families so that the impacts can be diminished,” said UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power.
UNICEF is on the ground ready to respond when Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in Haiti. Thanks to our disaster preparedness work in the region, we have access to pre-positioned emergency supplies. Emergency staff are mobilised and on standby. We will distribute materials immediately we identify the communities where children are worst-affected.
UNICEF Ireland has launched an emergency appeal for the children of Haiti.
On-the-ground representatives available for interview – Cornelia Walther in Port-au-Prince, Ruth Craig in Panama (Irish) and Executive Director Peter Power in Dublin.
Multimedia materials here.
Latest updates and satellite photos of the hurricane can be found via the National Hurricane Centre here
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