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Remarkable progress in the response to Caribbean hurricanes, but plenty more to do

UNICEF: Remarkable progress in the response to Caribbean hurricanes, but plenty more to do

BARBADOS – 8 December 2017 - UNICEF is reporting tremendous progress in the lives of children and their families three months after the first of two devastating hurricanes impacted several Eastern Caribbean countries.

The United Nations children’s agency said that working with donors, developmental partners, governments and local and international non- governmental organisations, it has been able to help improve the lives of children, but much more remains to be done.

“Working with our partners, we have reached tens of thousands of families and children in our key areas of education, psychosocial support and water and sanitation. However, we know we have to redouble our efforts if we are to support all the children who need us,” said Dr Aloys Kamuragiye, UNICEF’s Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area.

Over the September 6-8 period, Category 5 Hurricane Irma, with its 185 miles per hour winds, tore through Anguilla, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands, causing widespread devastation. This pattern of destruction was echoed on the night of 18 September when Hurricane Maria struck Dominica.

In total 143,000 people were affected by these extreme weather events, 39,000 of them being children. 

Among UNICEF’s interventions has been the landmark Cash Transfer Programme officially launched in Dominica on 4 December in collaboration with the Dominica Government and the World Food Programme. Now 8,300 households, including 6,000 vulnerable children, will receive funds totalling USD 1.1 million to supplement their resources.

In education, more than 18,000 children in the five affected countries were able to resume their education and the majority of schools in Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands have reopened. Nearly two-thirds of the school population in Dominica has regained access to education. UNICEF has also provided school materials, such as 101 early childhood development kits (reaching approximately 2,740 children) and school-in-a-box kits (reaching nearly 10,000 children).  

Psychosocial support was provided to 11,600 children through the Return to Happiness programme which aims to help children deal with the trauma experienced during and after the disasters.

Despite contributing greatly to the recovery process, Dr Kamuragiye said the children’s agency recognises that the situation remains far from ideal.  

“Many children in our region have had their lives turned upside down and we are determined to help them return to normalcy, especially those who are most vulnerable,” said Dr Kamuragiye. “It’s also important to be there for the children over time, so we really must reach our funding targets and ensure that the children affected can look forward to a brighter future. We cannot let them down.”  

UNICEF has so far raised just under half of the US 9.8 million it needs to respond to the emergencies.



UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. 

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For further information, please contact:

Patrick Knight, UNICEF Eastern Caribbean

Tel: 246 467-6162, E-mail:



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