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Jamaica and Grenada worst hit as Hurricane Ivan heads for Cuba

© UNICEF Grenada/2004
The tiny island of Grenada has been devastated by Hurricane Ivan.

NEW YORK, 12 September 2004 - Jamaica is appealing for international aid in the wake of Hurricane Ivan which tore through the island at the weekend. At least 14 people are reported dead on the island and thousands more have lost their homes.

UNICEF is sending a planeload of essential supplies from its warehouse in Copenhagen.

“At this point we are still assessing the situation,” says UNICEF Communication Officer for the Jamaica office, Monica Dias. “It is too early to say what quantities of supplies will be needed to help the children and others in Jamaica, but we will need oral rehydration salts (to help prevent diarrhoea in children), health kits and recreational toys and school supplies.”

The aid will arrive in Barbados where it will be distributed to the Caribbean islands worst affected. All have suffered damage and disruption from high winds and torrential rain. A total of 33 people have died and 80,000 have been displaced.

Establishing safe water supplies is a priority and there is also a desperate need for blankets and shelter. UNICEF is leading efforts to enable children to continue their education during the recovery. It is also making sure that they are given help to deal with the trauma caused by the hurricane.

Aid from UNICEF has already arrived in Grenada, which was devastated by Hurricane Ivan. Many areas are still without electricity and virtually every building has been damaged or destroyed.

Hospitals are reporting an increase of children with diarrhoea, which can be fatal. UNICEF has provided salts to stop them dying from dehydration. About 4,000 children are living in shelters.

UNICEF’s Representative Jean Gough was one of the first aid workers to reach Grenada as part of a multi-agency rapid assessment team. She says children are most at risk because their diet is poor and they are vulnerable to disease.

“It will be a long process of recovery,” she says. “And the danger is that Grenada, and its children, could be forgotten.”

Hurricane Ivan has been downgraded to a Category 4 but could gather strength again as it heads towards Cuba.



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