Geneva, 4 September 2019 – With access to the battered islands of Abaco and Grand Bahamas slowly beginning to open up, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has started rolling out a major emergency relief effort.
Initial aerial assessments released overnight confirm widespread devastation to the islands. According to national and regional authorities, it is estimated that approximately 76,000 people – the vast majority of residents on the two islands – have been affected by Hurricane Dorian which made landfall as a Category 5, and then hovered over the island nation for the better part of two days.
The Bahamas Red Cross/IFRC relief effort will focus on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable. Among this group may include some of an estimated 4,400 children under 15, as well as approximately 1,600 older people.
Stephen McAndrew, IFRC’s Deputy Regional Director for the Americas, said:
“Now that Dorian is moving away from the Bahamas, there is a window of opportunity to save lives and begin to ease the suffering of these communities.
“We have had a rapid assessment and response team on standby since the beginning of the week – they will move in today to join our previously deployed team members already in Nassau. We also have a first flight of relief supplies being loaded at our logistics hub in Panama – it can move as soon as the airports are up and running.
“Speed is of the essence.”
The IFRC appeal is seeking about 3.2 million Swiss francs (US$ 3.2 million). It focuses primarily on providing short- and mid-term shelter assistance to families, as well as replacing lost and necessary household goods such as lamps, cell phone chargers and tarpaulins.
Red Cross volunteers and staff will also distribute hot meals and food rations to people who may have gone without food in days, before shifting their focus to distributing cash grants. This approach gives people the agency to make their own decisions about what they need, and helps inject cash into local economies.
Other interventions include health, psychological support, water, sanitation and hygiene, and activities designed to prevent and respond to violence against vulnerable groups, including sexual and gender-based violence.
IFRC has already released 500,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to ensure an immediate supply of cash for the response teams on the ground.