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© UNICEF ECO/2007/Peters
Dr. Zuri Marhsall of St. George's University explaining challenges in implementing the RTH programme in Grenada

Caribbean disaster planners learn how to mainstream children’s issues in their national disaster plans

With the hurricane season having just began and recognizing that the Eastern Caribbean region is extremely vulnerable to natural hazards, the UNICEF Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean recently held a two day workshop focusing on “Emergencies and Children” for representatives from the Ministries of Health, Ministries of Education, the Red Cross and the National Disaster Organizations from countries across the Eastern Caribbean.

Approximately 50 persons attended the meeting which was held at the Grenada Grand Beach Resort from 03-04 July in Grand Anse. This workshop - the first of its kind to be held in the sub-region – focused on topics such as child protection, shelter management, psychosocial recovery for children, the media, children and emergencies, creating safe spaces for children, and education and emergencies, among other topics.

UNICEF Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mr. Tom Olsen, noted that children are often overlooked during the planning for emergencies and that given they are extremely vulnerable during such situations that it is important all persons ensure that their rights are not compromised.

 “The experience of Hurricane Ivan, as well as the Tsunami in Asia, has shown us that children are sometimes the hardest hit during an emergency,” said Mr. Olsen. “Their schedules are completely thrown off and those systems such as family, home and school that gave their lives structure are often disrupted. It is important to ensure that during such times, their rights are not compromised.” He added.

© UNICEF ECO/2007/Peters
R-L Andria Grosvenor of CDERA listening attentively to the presentations

His sentiments were similarly echoed by Andria Grosvenor, of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), who was one of the presenters at the meeting.

“Children are extremely vulnerable when a natural disaster impacts a country,” said Ms. Grosvenor. “It is for this reason that a meeting such as this is not only timely, but very important as it has shown us how to mainstream children’s issues throughout every aspect of disaster planning.”

She further added that CDERA is very supportive of this process and looks forward to future collaboration with UNICEF in this regard.

The meeting was held in collaboration with the Government of Grenada, Save the Children, the International Federation of Red Cross, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), CDERA and St. George’s University in Grenada. .



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