Haiti: UN appeals for $40 million to help people affected by Hurricane Sandy
The UN and its humanitarian partners appealed for additional funding of nearly US$40 million today to support the Haitian Government’s efforts to help hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Sandy which caused massive flooding and destruction when it swept across the country in October. Some $23 million of this extra money is needed for immediate support, with the rest going to fund programmes that will be implemented in 2013.
“None of us needs to be reminded of Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters and the heavy human and development toll that recent disasters have taken,” said the UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Catherine Bragg, who launched the appeal in Geneva today. “We need to continue to support Haiti through these disasters that can easily set back development efforts.”
More than 50 people died and over 27,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by floodwater when the storm hit. Heavy rains and wind caused rivers to overflow and flood neighbourhoods, damaging roads and buildings, including houses, schools and hospitals. Over 20 cholera treatment centres were destroyed, reducing the ability to respond to new cases while the flooding increased the risk of the disease spreading.
"Some places are still completely inundated with water and sanitation systems have been broken or need drainage. We obviously fear breakout of new water-borne diseases including spikes in cholera," said Johan Peleman, head of the OCHA office in Haiti. "Between the 28 October and 8 November, we had 4,000 new cases which is almost double the average that we have seen for the remainder of the year."
The appeal is in addition to the $128 million that humanitarian organizations need this year to support more than a million people who are facing food shortages, and families who have been living in camps since the earthquake hit. UN agencies and humanitarian partners have been providing food, water, shelter and other vital support but their efforts have been seriously hampered by funding shortfalls.
“This is a major blow to Haiti’s reconstruction efforts, making life for most vulnerable Haitians even more precarious,” said Humanitarian Coordinator Nigel Fisher. “International partners’ ability to respond has been reduced by dwindling donor support. Financial support to meet both immediate humanitarian needs and recovery efforts is urgently needed.”
Despite the challenges, in recent weeks aid organizations have distributed emergency food items such as high energy biscuits as well as tarpaulins and clean water to thousands of people in camps. Cholera response teams have reached many families with prevention and treatment. School tents have been set up so that students whose schools have been damaged still have access to education.
Hurricane Sandy, which swept across the Caribbean at the end of October before reaching the United States, has affected millions of people across the region. In Cuba, 11 people died and more than 3 million people were affected. Humanitarian organizations are working with national authorities in Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas to respond to the urgent needs of communities hit by the storm.