MANAGUA, 6 September 2007 - According to the Nicaraguan Civil Defence Force, over 34,000 people have been affected by Hurricane Felix in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean region and 8,441 houses were damaged. These figures are likely to increase as the rescue brigades reach communities isolated by the rain and swollen rivers.
UNICEF representative in Nicaragua, Debora Comini said, “UNICEF will help the national authorities guarantee the supply of safe water, hygiene and nutrition to small children.” As part of this commitment, blankets and supplies worth $32,971 were sent yesterday as an immediate response for those affected by the hurricane. The first urgent aid package sent through the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health included four mobile water chlorination units, each with the capacity to purify water for 1,600 people a day.
Together with the other United Nations Agencies and in coordination with the national and regional authorities, UNICEF is working to respond to the demand for supplies and emergency services in the area declared a disaster zone by the Nicaraguan government. As part of these efforts it is coordinating with the Ministry of Education to organize the emergency shelters, implement “educational bridges” to stop the school year being interrupted, and evaluate the school infrastructure. It has so far been reported that 80 per cent of schools have lost their roofs.
Today the Civil Defence Force is expected to reach the communities of Sandy Bay, Bismuna, the Miskito Keys and Cabo Gracias a Dios, which were most affected by the category five hurricane and its winds of up to 260 km per hour. According to Mayor Nancy Elizabeth Enríquez of Bilwi “Just four houses were left standing in Sandy Bay and Krukira looks as if it was hit by an earthquake.” Other areas such as Wiwilí, San José de Bocay and Raití, which are mainly inhabited by Sumo-Mayagna indigenous people, suffered partial damage to houses and crops.
A United Nations evaluation team is travelling to the affected area today with government officials to evaluate the damages and prepare requests for humanitarian aid and recovery assistance.
Nicaragua is still experiencing heavy rains, which are causing rivers to break their banks and destroying highways, which has left the north Caribbean region completely isolated by land. Meanwhile, the municipalities of Bilwi, Rosita and Waspám are still without electricity.
*** About UNICEF UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.