UN agencies brace as deadly Hurricane Ivan begins to strike Jamaica

10 September 2004

United Nations humanitarian agencies have disaster staff in place and emergency health kits on standby in Jamaica to respond to Hurricane Ivan, which is lashing the country after already cutting a deadly trail through the Caribbean region.

A five-member UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team is working with officials in Jamaica and staff from the International Federation of Red Crescent and Red Cross Committees to help organize the response there to the tropical storm, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said today.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has pre-positioned emergency health kits around the country, while humanitarian officials plan to conduct an aerial survey immediately after the hurricane passes.

More than two dozen people have been killed so far by Hurricane Ivan across the eastern Caribbean, according to media reports, with Grenada by far the worst affected. As much of 90 per cent of that nation's homes are reported to have been damaged.

The hurricane is now heading north across the region, hitting Jamaica and the Cayman Islands today. It scheduled to reach Cuba by Sunday and then the southeastern United States on Monday.

In Haiti, which is no longer in the direct path of Hurricane Ivan, the UN peacekeeping mission there - known by its French acronym MINUSTAH - and humanitarian agencies have mobilized to deal with the anticipated heavy rains and winds expected in the country's south.

This year's hurricane season in the Caribbean has been particularly busy, with several deadly storms striking the region already, even though the season usually lasts until November. Hurricane Frances hit the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Florida in the US last week, while Hurricane Charley struck Cuba and Florida last month.

 

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