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Author Picture By - Oct 07, 2016

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Update: On October 10, the UN released an appeal for $119 million to urgently respond to the most urgent humanitarian needs of 750,000 people seriously affected by Hurricane Matthew.

As Hurricane Matthew strikes the southeast coast of the United States, the storm has left a path of death and destruction in Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic. According to the latest news reports, more than 300 people have been killed, mostly in Haiti, and the number is expected to rise.

With more than 350,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance, the United Nations and other humanitarian actors have dispatched emergency response teams to survey the damage and distribute urgently needed relief items.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) reports that some communities lost up to 80% of their crops, which means food in the coming months will be in short supply.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has conveyed “his solidarity with the people and Governments of Haiti, Cuba, and other nations in the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Matthew.” And President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson said: “The world must stand with the victims at this time as people of goodwill everywhere recognize their suffering and stand ready to offer a helping hand.”

What’s being done to help?

The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has released $5 million to help meet the urgent needs of people affected by Hurricane Matthew, in addition to providing a loan of $8 million to UNICEF to scale up support for the response to the cholera epidemic.

The UN is coordinating aid shipments from their office in Panama. WFP is mobilizing 30 tons of high-energy biscuits for Haiti. Working with national authorities, UNICEF had prepositioned emergency supplies to reach up to 100,000 people in Haiti and is working to dispatch more supplies including water purification tablets, water bladders, and plastic sheeting.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has deployed staff to support Haiti’s disaster management system. With flooding and damage to water and sanitation infrastructure, the World Health Organization has sent health experts to prepare for a possible upsurge in cholera.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is sending a flight from Panama with 40 metric tons of non-food items and approved a funding appeal to help 50,000 people for 12 months in health, water and sanitation, shelter, and disaster risk reduction.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency is deploying emergency response teams following Haiti’s request to strengthen Emergency Operations Centers in Les Cayes and Jérémie.

How can you help?

 The best way to help is to donate to support organizations working in the Caribbean. Here are ways to donate to UN agencies that respond to disasters.

UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org/

UNICEF USA: https://www.unicefusa.org/donate/support-hurricane-matthew-relief-efforts/30966?ms=ref_dig_2016_web_homepage_emergencies_hurricanematthew

WFP: http://www.wfp.org/

UNDP: https://app.mobilecause.com/form/jcpuvw

For businesses interested in helping, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has developed a guide with ways to engage.

Additionally, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) collects donations year-round so there is a pool of money available to respond quickly to disasters, such as hurricanes. You can donate to CERF to help the UN provide immediate relief to people in their time of need.

Stay informed:

To get the latest information on the impact of Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean and the humanitarian response, visit the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs dedicated webpage: http://www.unocha.org/hurricane-matthew.

[Photo: UN MINUSTAH/Logan Abassi]

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