PANAMA CITY – A senior official of the United Nations Children’s Fund appealed to the international community to prevent the 357,000 children of the Caribbean region affected by the last few hurricanes there from going unnoticed and told EFE that $9.5 million is required to meet their most urgent needs.
“There are too many things happening in the world, but we ask the international community to help us prevent these children from becoming the invisibles of history,” Maria Cristina Perceval, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said in an interview with EFE.
Eight hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic so far this season, five of which have reached the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson scale (Harvey, Maria, Irma, Lee and Jose), something which had not occurred since 2005.
Irma and Maria stuck the Caribbean islands with devastating force in September, leaving dozens dead and a trail of destruction in their wake, smashing houses and roads and knocking out power and communication networks.
The Latin and Caribbean region is not exempt from these disasters, as “it is affected by 80 percent of all natural events linked to climate change,” the UN official pointed out.
Dominica was possibly the island most devastated by the passage of the hurricanes and requires more than 60 percent of the funds that the UN agency is raising, according to Perceval.
Maria – which made landfall on Dominica on Sept. 18 – alone caused 30 deaths on this small island and forced close to 65,000 people out of their homes and into shelters, out of which 20,000 were children.
“Dominica’s geomorphology is very complicated. It is not easy to reach the worst affected areas, helicopters and SUVs are needed. These countries are not equipped with all that is needed to distribute humanitarian aid,” the UN official explained.
The $9.5 million UNICEF is raising will be used to provide the affected children with drinking water, food, temporary education and psychological care, but also to ensure that they don’t face any kind of abuse in the shelters set up by different international organizations.