Storm Idalia: UNICEF Cuba ready to support the country’s response in caring for affected children and families
Prepositioned humanitarian supplies in the country will expedite UNICEF support to vulnerable families
Havana, August 29, 2023.- After the passing through Cuba of tropical storm Idalia –now a hurricane–, authorities are assessing the damage in the most affected provinces in the west of the country: Pinar del Río, Artemisa, Mayabeque, La Habana and the Isle of Youth special municipality.
Idalia made landfall in Cuba around 9:00 pm on Monday, August 28, at Cabo de San Antonio, Pinar del Río province, with sustained winds of 100 km/h (62 mph) and gusts of greater intensity. It then became a category 1 hurricane on the morning of Tuesday, August 29. Although Idalia is moving away from the national territory towards the north, the probability of rainfall in the western region remains high.
Initial reports indicate flooding in coastal strips in the Isle of Youth and in Boca de San Diego and La Bajada, both in Pinar del Río province, as well as in Melena del Sur, San Nicolás, Quivicán and Surgidero de Batabanó, all areas of Mayabeque province. Hydro-meteorological watch continues due to the risk of increased flooding.
Approximately 8,200 people were evacuated to the homes of family and friends or to centers temporarily set up for this purpose, such as educational institutions, less than a week before the start of the school year. The impacts of this tropical storm are still to be determined. Preliminary reports indicate that electricity and telephone services have been affected, especially in Pinar del Río and Artemisa.
In the current Atlantic hurricane season, UNICEF reiterates its support to national efforts in tropical storm and hurricane preparedness and response. Since 2022, in coordination with local authorities, UNICEF has collaborated with recovery efforts in the province of Pinar del Rio, affected by Hurricane Ian. Now, with the passage of storm Idalia, humanitarian supplies previously positioned in the country have been identified and communication is being maintained with the authorities to offer support to the most affected populations.
Among the supplies available are 10-liter water storage containers, as well as hygiene kits that could benefit up to 2,000 families. Meanwhile, recreation kits could reach 20,700 children and early childhood kits could benefit 10,700 children. Tarpaulins are also available to set up temporary learning spaces, if necessary.
UNICEF Cuba contributes to national and local efforts to prepare for and respond to hurricanes and other risks, through actions in the education, health, protection, water, hygiene and sanitation sectors. Likewise, it promotes messages through its digital platforms to prepare the population for the occurrence of natural disasters and on how to offer socioemotional support to children and adolescents in these contexts, including those living with some type of disability.
To this end, it receives financial support from the Government of Korea, the Government of Canada, Basque Agency for Development Cooperation, the Government of the Canary Islands and the Xunta de Galicia, through the Spanish Committee.
In addition, with funds from the European Commission's Directorate General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), it is increasing capacities for the inclusive management of disaster multi-risk reduction and for resilience to climate change in the east of the country. Other opportunities continue to be identified for the mobilization of resources to protect the most vulnerable populations, especially children and adolescents, in emergency situations.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.