DUBLIN, October 4 – Please note that Cornelia Walther from UNICEF’s Haiti country office is based in Port-au-Prince and is now available for live interview (or recorded) on the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew by phone or skype.
Below is Cornelia’s pre hurricane blog for your information:
Lockdown but ready. The night before Matthew
It is in an emergency when one really feels how truly global and solution focussed UNICEF is. Over the past 48 hours whilst waiting for Matthew I had emails and calls from colleagues in headquarters, regional office and Geneva. All of them are ready to support Haiti now and in the time post-Matthew. Like a gigantic family with branches all across the world that seeks to offer shadow and fruits to children in need.
Indeed the wait for Matthew continues. As its progress has slowed down, it is now expected that the full impact on Haiti will be felt only by tomorrow night. For the time being in Port au Prince the literal calm before the storm reigns. It feels surrealist to see children play football and people go about their usual business, while news-networks and internet platforms abound with apocalyptic scenarios for tomorrow and beyond.
Like watching a truck that races straight into a crowded marketplace one observes the situation unfold as Matthew makes its way towards Haiti. Rumours about the impact that can already be seen flourish – from so-called witness accounts about ‘total destruction of Les Cayes and Jeremy’ to more moderate updates on wind and heavy rainfall, everything can be found on Twitter & Co. According to our standby NGO partners on the ground, and following information received from the Governments’ Civil protection unit no major damage has occurred so far. The situation is monitored closely, in order to ensure that action can be taken immediately and in line with the arising needs. One fisherman died this morning. He went out despite the warnings to feed his family, one of many lives from one day to the next, and didn’t return from the stormy sea.
To provide shelter for those who might lose the little they possess, the Government has opened 234 emergency shelters across the country. And UNICEF via its partners has prepositioned stocks to provide them with the basic minimum. Since today all schools are closed, as is the airport. Until Wednesday Haiti is in lockdown, cut-off from the world.
Within the UNICEF Haiti office a crises management team has been set-up which will be operating throughout the coming days no matter the circumstances. We will seek to ensure a continued stream of information to UNICEF colleagues and media, and the preparation for staff deployment on the ground once Matthew has passed and the roads reopened.
Two trucks are ready with emergency supplies and for Wednesday three staff are scheduled to travel to the most heavily affected areas along the coast towards Jeremy, located in the far West of Haiti. Together with staff from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) they will do a rapid needs assessment to find out how many children are affected and what their primary needs are.
Please keep the children of Haiti in your thoughts. Their families have the courage to protect them, and we must do whatever we can to support.
Thank you & Mesi anpil
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
UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. UNICEF has been operating for 70 years.
To learn about UNICEF and its work for children visit https://www.unicef.ie/
For more information, please contact:
Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland | firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +353 1 809 0281 | Mob: +353 85 1395272