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UN steps up relief to Grenada in Ivan's wake

© UNICEF Grenada/2004/Donovan
After the hurricane, a family stands outside their demolished home

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS 14 September 2004 - Representatives of the United Nations system met today with donors to step up relief efforts to Grenada as the island struggles to cope with the aftereffects of Hurricane Ivan.

In a meeting chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator Rosina Wiltshire, agencies and donor mapped out coordination of the humanitarian aid campaign. The UN system already has an assessment team on the ground to estimate damage, immediate recovery planning and to help coordinate distribution of relief supplies.

The agencies, including UNDP, UNICEF, FAO, UNIFEM, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), UN Office of Drugs and Crime, World Bank, Caribbean Development Bank, and PAHO and representatives of USAID, the Canadian Development Agency (CIDA), DFID (UK) and the European Union (EU) agreed to cooperate with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) as lead agency, meaning that the all relief efforts will be directed through that organization.

UNICEF has taken responsibility for children and education, with a focus also on children’s health and dissemination of information on children’s health to the public. The children’s agency is chiefly concerned with getting children back to school as soon as possible, setting up a programme designed to relieve the sense of loss children are experiencing, and launching a public health information campaign.

© UNICEF Grenada/2004/Donovan
A boy, age nine, collects drinking water to bring back to his home

UNICEF consultants are evaluating the damage to schools, in order to assess which ones can be salvaged.  The next step will be to seek funds from the international donor community for the rebuilding and refurbishing of schools, and to provide several thousand ‘school-in-a-box’ kits and tents for temporary school rooms.

“It is imperative that children return to school as soon as possible, not just to continue their education, but to give them a sense of normalcy to their topsy-turvy lives,” said Ms. Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean.

Current estimates indicate that 20,000 people have taken refuge in temporary shelters.  Many of these living quarters are schools, hotels under construction or other buildings whose structures appear to have withstood the 150 mph winds and rain that ripped through the island last week.  It is estimated that at least 8,000 of the residents of the shelters are children.
Two UNICEF staff from Panama  are already on the ground in Grenada setting up a unique psychosocial programme called “Return to Happiness” for children who are presently living in shelters. This programme uses a child-to-child methodology and puppets to take children through the process of psychological recovery following catastrophic events. 

UNICEF expects to involve children from 6 to 18 years of age in the four-week long workshops.  At least 600 children will participate in the first round. 

“We are ready to do what it takes to make sure that these children are protected and their rights to health and security are respected,” said Gough.

UNICEF is also beginning a public information campaign to remind parents of potential health and security risks to their children.  These messages, which will be posted in all of the 80 shelters around the country, include tips on the treatment of diarrhoea, the importance of good hygiene and warning signs of depression.

UNICEF is working with the office of Caribbean Program Coordination of the Pan-American Health Organization (the regional arm of the World Health Organization) to ensure the purchase and distribution of vaccines. 

UNICEF is also working with the Canadian International Development Agency and Oxfam on water and sanitation issues and with the International Red Cross on logistics.

“UNICEF is very fortunate to work with such generous and knowledgeable partners,” said Gough.

For further information, please contact:

Lisa McClean, UNICEF Barbados and Eastern Caribbean, Tel:  ++ 246)  467 6157 e-mail: lmccleantrotman@unicef.org

Andy Taitt, UNDP Barbados and Organization of Eastern Caribbean States , Tel:  ++ 246) 467 6033 andy.taitt@undp.org





UNICEF Rep for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Jean Gough highlights the difficult conditions under which the children of Grenada are currently living.

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