Children still need aid three months after Caribbean hurricanes


Thousands of children across the Caribbean region still need support, three months after two category-5 hurricanes tore the region, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday.

"These included life-saving supplies that were most needed during the immediate response when access to clean water, shelter and basic social services were scarce," said Maria Cristina Perceval, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, caused extensive damage to the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, Haiti and Cuba and Hurricane Maria then wrought additional damage across the region, with UNICEF estimating that together, they left 350,000 children in need of humanitarian assistance, she said.

"Three months on, UNICEF is still on the ground in these countries and territories, working on programmes to support children and families in rebuilding their lives and returning to a sense of normalcy," she added.

However, challenges remain, with many of the most vulnerable families still feeling the effects of the storms.

Over 35 percent of Dominica's children - particularly those in shelters - are still not enrolled in education activities, while in Antigua and Barbuda many families remain in shelters, unable to return home, she said.

Working in collaboration with governments and non-governmental organizations, UNICEF said that its staff have been providing immediate humanitarian relief and working to ensure longer term recovery and resilience.

"While life is returning to normal for many, children and families who have lived through these storms will need committed, sustained support to get their homes, communities and lives back on track," maintained Ms. Perceval.

UNICEF said that the UN agency and its partners are supporting communities through programmes focused on recovery and resilience in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica and Haiti.