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Message on the 10th anniversary of Haiti earthquake

  • 10 January 2020 |

On this day, we remember the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their lives and the millions gravely affected by the devastating earthquake that struck their country ten years ago.

We also honour the memory of one hundred and two United Nations colleagues lost that same day.

I will never forget the shock and sadness across the United Nations as we became aware of the scale of the tragedy. 

My heart goes out to all those who lost family, friends and loved ones. 

Over the past decade, Haiti has drawn on the resilience of its people and the support of its many friends to overcome this disaster.

With the continued support of the international community, Haiti is striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including through strengthening the institutions that are so crucial to the wellbeing and prosperity of its people.

On this day, I renew the commitment of the United Nations to helping Haiti and its people build a brighter future.

Thank you.

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UN gears up emergency food aid for hurricane-struck region of Bahamas, as death toll rises

  • 06 September 2019 |

With initial assessments indicating that some seventy six thousand people in the parts of the Bahamas worst-affected by Hurricane Dorian need urgent support, the World Food Programme (WFP) is arranging for eight tons of ready-to-eat meals to be provided – part of a $5.4 million overall funding package.

In a statement released in Geneva on Thursday, WFP Spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel said that the UN agency has a team on the ground, assessing the full extent of the damage and identifying those in greatest need.

According to news reports, as of Thursday afternoon local time, twenty three deaths were confirmed, and officials fear that the total will rise considerably as search and rescue effort continues.

Mr. Verhoosel said that WFP is working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the government and partners, to “identify the most urgent needs and provide support in the vital areas of food, telecommunications and logistics”.

An airlift is being organised, from the UN hub in Panama, of storage units, generators, and offices for two logistics hubs to be established on the main islands, said Mr. Verhoosel, and WFP is also providing satellite equipment to ensure connectivity for emergency responders across the affected island group.

The spokesperson noted that the assessment teams carried out an initial aerial reconnaissance mission to the affected islands on Wednesday, with the aim of getting teams to the hardest-hit areas as soon as possible.

He added that the agency is making $5.4 million available, as part of a three-month Limited Emergency Operation (LEO), because of the severity of the situation. The operation will provide support to thirty nine thousand people and, in a first phase, WFP will focus on procuring and distributing up to eighty five tons of ready-to-eat meals for the most affected communities.

The WFP briefing comes a day after the UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, who travelled to the Bahamas on Wednesday, announced that he would release a million dollars from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), to kick-start critical relief efforts for the response to Hurricane Dorian, which is being led by the Bahamas government.

Source: UN News

See updates on humanitarian action from ReliefWeb.


Listen on UN radio 

 

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UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continued to batter the Bahamas

  • 03 September 2019 |

Renewed warnings of deadly destruction in the Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian have been issued by UN agencies and partners, who said on 3 September that they’re worried “for every single” person on two of the worst-hit Caribbean islands.

Briefing journalists in Geneva, Jens Laerke from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that initial assessments from Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands - where the storm made landfall and is effectively stationary as of Tuesday morning, local time - were “rather catastrophic”.

He added: “As we heard, it made landfall in the Abaco Islands; the population there is a little more than seventeen thousand people, we are concerned for all of them. It is now over the Grand Bahama, the population there is about fifty-one thousand people and we are concerned for every one of them. The Prime Minister of the Bahamas has said already that five individuals have been confirmed killed as a result of this hurricane.”

Initially classified as a Category 5 hurricane at the weekend when it hit the Bahamas’ north-west with wind gusts of over three hundred and twenty kilometres per hour, Dorian has now been downgraded two notches.

But it still has the potential to be deadly, regardless of its rating, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“It was the strongest on record to make landfall in the Bahamas,” said WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis. “At its peak it had maximum sustained winds of two hundred and seventy kilometres an hour, which is absolutely huge, with gusts of up to three hundred and twenty one kilometres an hour. It’s life-threatening it’s devastating, it’s now weakened to the equivalent of a Category three hurricane. The winds are still devastating, the storm surge is still life-threatening and the rainfall is still torrential.”

Confirming the widespread damage from the high winds and amid reports of storm surges between five and seven metres high, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said that more than thirteen thousand houses had been severely damaged or destroyed - about forty five per cent of all homes on the two islands.

“In terms of needs, we believe that Abaco Island has the most vulnerable population,” said IFRC spokesperson Matthew Cochrane. “There’s a large Haitian community on the island, who will need, we believe, a significant amount of assistance to recover from and rebuild after this storm. We also understand that about sixty two thousand people across the two islands will need access to clean drinking water.”

Thousands will need food support

Initial assessments carried out by the World Food Programme (WFP) with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and other humanitarian partners, indicate that Abaco will likely require food for more than fourteen thousand people and Grand Bahama for over forty seven thousand people.

With a handful of specialized staff on the ground to provide support in food security, emergency telecommunications and logistics, WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel said that they would support the Government of the Bahamas in “rapidly assessing the damage from the hurricane and in prioritizing needs” over the next three days.

Meanwhile, in response to the “unprecedented storm”, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, expressed her condolences to the people of the Bahamas.

“This is the fourth consecutive year that we have witnessed an extremely devastating Atlantic hurricane season including Category five hurricanes like Dorian”, said spokesperson Denis McClean from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), reading from a statement.

“The sequence cannot be divorced from fact that these last five years have been the hottest ever recorded because of the continuing rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

Storm shows ‘existential threat’ facing small island States

Ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York beginning on 23 September 2019, Mr. McClean insisted that Hurricane Dorian “crystallises the existential threat posed to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by the ongoing climate emergency.

This is an enormous humanitarian and development challenge for the Bahamas. Within the past few years, the Bahamas has been seriously affected by at least three major hurricanes, all Category four storms or above. The impact of hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew and Irma on the Bahamas has been reported to have cost approximately eight hundred and twenty million dollars”, he said.

Source: UN News

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Secretary-General's Statement on Cyclone Idai

  • 22 March 2019 |

Secretary-General's Statement on Cyclone Idai

I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and heart-wrenching images of human suffering we have seen since Cyclone Idai hit Beira, Mozambique on the night of 14 March, and then swept into Malawi and Zimbabwe, resulting in the massive disaster.
 
I have been encouraged by the efforts of national and international search and rescue teams, who have been working around the clock to save thousands of lives under dangerous and challenging conditions.
 
These heroes have not only rescued families off roofs, but are also delivering food, water purification tablets and other life-saving humanitarian assistance to survivors after communities have literally been washed away.
 
The UN and humanitarian partners are scaling up the response with the initial funding from generous donors. The UN has already released US$ 20 million to kick-start the response. However, far greater international support is needed.
 
With crops destroyed in the breadbasket of Mozambique more people are at risk of food insecurity in all three countries. And homes, schools, hospitals and roads lie in ruin.
 
What is needed now are funds to support the response in the days, weeks and months to come.
 
We must all stand in solidarity with the people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
 
I would like to make a strong appeal to the international community to step up support.

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UN ready to support tsunami-hit parts of Indonesia – Secretary-General Guterres

  • 23 December 2018 |

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has expressed “deep sadness” at the loss of life, injuries and damages caused by the tsunami that struck the Indonesian coast late Saturday, local time.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Secretary-General Guterres extended his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Indonesia, and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

“The United Nations stands ready to support the ongoing Government-led rescue and relief efforts,” the statement added.

According to reports, at least 200 people have died and over 850 injured after the devastating tsunami struck the coast in the Sunda Strait of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, with Pandenglang, South Lampung and Serang areas the worst affected.

Roads and highways are also said to have been damaged, and several people are reported to be missing.

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United Nations stands in solidarity with the people and Government of Trinidad and Tobago

  • 23 October 2018 |

The United Nations stands in solidarity with the people and Government of Trinidad and Tobago as they confront the impact of ongoing rain and floods. It extends its sympathies to all who have been affected and pledges its support in the country’s recovery efforts.

The United Nations commends the Government for its prompt and committed response to this emergency, and its management of the situation. Currently, United Nations agencies in Trinidad and Tobago are collaborating with their line ministries providing technical advice, identifying areas needing immediate attention, and developing strategies for longer-term relief and recovery. These agencies are further prepared to scale-up their tangible support and practical assistance; to this end, they are liaising with non-governmental and other intergovernmental organisations to share expertise and identify areas for cooperation.

The United Nations will continue these efforts as long as required and stands ready to mobilise all additional, available, resources that may be needed in support of action to address this emergency.

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UN report shows climate change causing ‘dramatic rise’ in economic losses

  • 11 October 2018 |

Climate-related and geophysical disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis have killed 1.3 million people over the last 20 years and left a further 4.4 billion injured, homeless or in need of emergency assistance, UN experts said on Wednesday.

 

The findings, published by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), also show that people in low- and middle-income countries are seven times more likely to die from natural disasters than those in developed nations.

“This puts a big emphasis on the need to…make sure that we curb greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ricardo Mena, UNISDR chief, in charge of implementing the Sendai Framework.

Failing to do this, risks letting climate-related hazards get out of control, he told journalists in Geneva, before calling for greater investment in disaster risk-reduction measures, “so that we do not allow for countries to create new risk”.

In terms of the impact of disasters on the global economy between 1998 and 2017, affected countries reported direct losses of $2.908 trillion. That’s more than twice what was lost in the previous two decades.

Illustrating the growing threat from climate change, extreme weather events now account for 77 per cent of total economic losses, $2.245 trillion, the report notes.

This represents a “dramatic rise” of 151 per cent compared with losses reported between 1978 and 1997, which amounted to $895 billion.

newsicon  [ full story on UN News]

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Message on International Day for Disaster Reduction

  • 11 October 2018 |

This year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction falls shortly after a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia showed yet again the urgency of resilience and risk-awareness.

Disasters have a steep human cost.

Millions of people are displaced every year, losing their homes and jobs because of extreme weather events and earthquakes.

However, not all countries report systematically on the economic losses from major disaster events, according to a new report prepared by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

This year’s International Day aims to highlight the need for Member States to improve data collection on disasters, including comprehensive accounting of economic losses.

This is crucial for progress on crisis prevention.

For example, a better understanding of the economic losses from extreme weather events can help to generate greater action on climate change and increased ambition on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Measuring economic losses can also motivate governments to do more to achieve the targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which seeks a substantial reduction in disaster losses by 2030.

Reducing the economic losses from disasters has the power to transform lives and contribute greatly to the eradication of poverty.

As we mark the International Day for Disaster Reduction, let us reaffirm our commitment to this vital endeavour.

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Interview: Hurricane-hit Caribbean nations can build back better, says UN development official

  • 24 October 2017 |

Mere mention of the Caribbean conjures up images of pristine waters, beautiful beaches and fun in the sun. However, the images emanating from the region over the past couple of months have painted a very different picture.

“A paradise turned into hell,” was how United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres described Barbuda earlier this month after visiting the island that was ravaged by Hurricane Irma. During a two-day visit to the Caribbean, he also witnessed the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the small island nation of Dominica.

Mr. Guterres was accompanied by Stephen O’Malley, the UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) for Barbados and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

The biggest challenge is that the storms are getting stronger. And that seems to be the consensus of scientists, that these storms are going to get stronger

Stephen O'Mally
UN Resident Coordinator, Barbados & East Caribbean" icon="icon" avatar ="

“People want to live here for very good reason – they’re beautiful islands, it’s where people have lived for centuries, their families have lived here for centuries,” Mr. O’Malley said in an interview with UN News on the side lines of the Secretary-General’s visit. “So how do you make sure that you use the right techniques to keep yourself as safe, and your country as safe, as possible?”

Mr. O’Malley, whose remit includes Barbados and nine other countries in the region, describes what it was like for him to see the aftermath for the first time, what the priority needs are, and what countries can do to mitigate the risks as well as build back better following such disasters.

[ read the interview ] 

 

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United Nations in the Caribbean joint statement on support for Irma victims

  • 07 September 2017 |

United Nations in the Caribbean

Press Release

For immediate release
Date:
 06 September, 2017
United Nations Deploying Aid and Personnel to Irma-affected Caribbean territories

Bridgetown, Barbados – September 6, 2017: The United Nations System is deploying staff and assistance to meet the needs of vulnerable Caribbean citizens in the path of record-breaking Hurricane Irma. Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have unique economic, environmental and social vulnerabilities that are exacerbated in severe natural crises.

“Hurricane Irma is an unprecedented threat to the Caribbean. The United Nations is working closely with the CDEMA-led Regional Response Mechanism (RRM) and the affected countries to bring assistance to those most in need.  We are saddened by the reports of lives lost, and of people made homeless by this storm,” stressed Mr. Stephen O’Malley, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the OECS.

Early indications are that there has been signficant damage to infrastructure in Sint Maarten, Anguilla, and Barbuda, while information from other islands is still coming in.

Rapid Needs Assessment and Technical Experts

Technical experts drawn from across the Caribbean, regional offices, and the various agency headquarters are deploying to support CDEMA and the affected countries as needed. These include water and sanitation and hygiene experts, engineers, medical doctors, logistics management, nutrition, waste water and child protection and social protection experts. Emergency funding will also be drawn down to respond the needs of those directly affected.

Agency Contributions

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has deployed a four-person UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team comprised of first responders to augment Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency’s (CDEMA) capacity with coordination, needs assessment and information management expertise. UNDAC partners from the International Humanitarian Partnership and MapAction will provide support with logistics, communications and mapping.

UN Women Multi-Country office – Caribbean is partnering with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to provide dignity kits which contain basic health and hygiene products for displaced women and girls, such as soap, underwear, bras and sanitary napkins. UN Women is also able to provide technical and financial support on economic initiatives to get women and their families back on their feet and to address safety and security concerns.

In addition to the Dignity/Hygiene Kits, as requested, UNFPA can support in providing life-saving reproductive health commodities through emergency Reproductive Health Kits. UNFPA would be able also to offer technical guidance on the prevention of Gender-Based Violence and sexual violence in affected communities.

UNDP has activated its crisis preparedness plans and will support countries both during the immediate response to this disaster and in crucial early recovery activities like debris management, emergency employment and supporting core government functions, if asked.

UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Area Office is still working with governments of impacted countries, other United Nations agencies, partner organisations and the regional emergency response mechanism to offer the required assistance and support, but has already pre-positioned emergency supplies in Antigua to be rapidly distributed to the most affected islands. UNICEF’s priority is ensuring the safety and security of children, especially those who are most disadvantaged.

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is deploying surge capacity with expertise in water, sanitation, hygiene, health and disaster assessment to support Ministries of Health and enable delivery of essential health services.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Subregional Office for the Caribbean will work with governments of affected states to assess impact on fisheries and agriculture and pave the way for recovery of livelihoods and adequate food and nutrition.

The emergency and disaster response is coordinated by the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management System. Under this umbrella system, the United Nations, donor agencies in the Caribbean including, USAID/OFDA, ECHO, DFID, Global Affairs Canada and others are coordinating their aid in light of the impact of Hurricane Irma and in readiness for the approaching Tropical Storm Jose.

 

 

For further information, please contact:

Sharon Carter-Burke
Communications Analyst
UN Women Multi Country Office - Caribbean
UN House, Marine Gardens
Hastings, Christ Church, Barbados
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: +1 246 467 6000 Ext 6124

Fax:+1 246 437 6596
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