UNICEF set to distribute aid to Madagascar’s cyclone victims
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will start distributing medicines and mosquito nets tomorrow to the parts of eastern Madagascar hardest hit by Cyclone Giovanna, which has killed at least 16 people and left a trail of destruction.
The death toll from the cyclone, which struck the coast early yesterday and has since crossed the island country, is expected to climb further, according to Dominic Stolarow, UNICEF’s emergency coordinator in Madagascar.
Aerial assessments are under way with on-the-ground checks to follow as many areas remain cut off because of flood waters and the damage caused by the cyclonic winds, which topped 180 kilometres per hour in some areas.
Numerous hospitals, health-care centres and schools have been flattened or badly damaged by the cyclone, as well as countless homes. In one town alone, an estimated 3,000 houses were destroyed.
Electricity and water supplies have been cut in many areas, although those services have now been largely restored to the neighbourhoods of the capital, Antananarivo, that had been worst hit by Giovanna.
Mr. Stolarow told the UN News Centre today that providing clean water and decent sanitation, re-establishing health care, building temporary classrooms and ensuring there is enough food for families in need are the top priorities for UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies.
He said the agency would tomorrow help to distribute about 10,000 mosquito nets as well as large stocks of emergency medicines, working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local authorities.
Madagascar is frequently beset by cyclones and tropical storms in the early months of the year. Giovanna hit the country exactly a year to the day since Madagascar was struck by Cyclone Bingiza, which killed 14 people and destroyed almost 6,000 homes.