United Nations agencies are providing much-needed assistance to the Maldives, which is suffering from the effects of two days of wave swells last week which have impacted at least 35 islands in 13 atolls in the Indian Ocean nation.
“Except for the tsunami in 2004, the Maldives has never before faced such widespread and simultaneous flooding of so many islands,” said John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
The UN was part of a rapid assessment team, also comprising personnel from the Government, the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent (IFRC), deployed on 19 May to five islands in the hardest-hit Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), while no deaths have been reported, approximately 1,650 people have been forced to leave their homes while 217 housing units as well as several harbours and jetties have been damaged.
Heath and education facilities are functional in spite of the flooding and considerable damage, with streets strewn with garbage, debris being widespread and septic tanks needing repair.
The Government of the Maldives is appealing for international support and for UN aid in the relief and recovery efforts.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supplying 10 water tanks and five rainwater harvesting kits to Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, while the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating with the Government’s Ministry of Health on possible aid that may be required. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is working with authorities to assist in livelihood recovery.
The Government has distributed emergency items, such as food, water and mattresses, as well as a mobile water desalination plant.