United Nations humanitarian officials are preparing to launch an appeal to help fund relief efforts in Haiti, one of several Caribbean countries reeling from the impact of four deadly hurricanes in less than a month.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes announced today that an appeal is being finalized because the combined effects of the disasters – hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna and now Ike have struck the region since mid-August – has overwhelmed the capacity of local countries’ rescue and relief efforts.
Mr. Holmes – who is also Emergency Relief Coordinator – made the announcement during a four-day visit to the region, according to a statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Panama City.
The appeal is set to focus on Haiti, already the poorest State in the Western Hemisphere and the one that has been hit the hardest in the current Caribbean hurricane season.
Almost 800,000 people are estimated to have been affected by the consecutive storms, which have been brought widespread floods and lethal mudslides. The damage has also exacerbated the suffering of Haitians who have been dealing with the effects of the global food crisis.
Mr. Holmes added that the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is being used to support relief operations across the region, and that UN agencies and other organizations are working closely together to ensure the response is coordinated.
Those agencies include the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), as well as the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).
The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by the French acronym MINUSTAH, has also been instrumental in relief efforts, particularly in the devastated northern city of Gonaïves.
The most recent hurricane, Ike, struck Cuba today for the second time in two days, killing at least four people and causing massive damage to homes and other buildings. The same storm has damaged as much as 85 per cent of all housing and infrastructure on the Turks and Caicos Islands.