UNITED NATIONS, CMC – The United Nations will be releasing US$1-million in the aftermath of the devastation left behind by Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas.
According to UN relief chief, Mark Lowcock, he traveled to The Bahamas on Wednesday where he met with government leaders and to help expedite a life-saving aid operation.
Following further aerial surveys on Thursday and more data collection, Lowcock said “hopefully, very soon after that, we will be able to get teams on the ground”, adding that he had told the Bahamian Prime Minister that he would release US$1 million “immediately, from the Central Emergency Response Fund, to deal with exactly the set of priorities that he has identified”.
“It’s very unusual, for 20 percent of the population of a country to be very severely impacted by a single event like this,” Lowcock said. “The Bahamas has certainly never seen anything on the scale.”
He said the most comparable recent disaster was the near-total destruction of the Caribbean island of Dominica, by Hurricane Maria, in 2017.
“It’s true that the numbers of people, given the overall scale of emergencies we deal with around the world is not as big as in some other places, but a disaster of such epic proportions on a single country, in a single incident, is very, very unusual,” the UN’s relief chief said.
He said that the damage was on an “enormous scale”, causing “vast devastation” and leaving around 70,000 in need of life-saving aid on the two islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Lowcock said access was “still very limited” to the islands for the rescue and humanitarian relief effort, noting that “the scale of the disaster was unprecedented, for what is, essentially, a prosperous country.”
Much of the response was being paid for by the government, he said, but given the scale of the disaster, “it was appropriate for the international community to respond to the country’s request for assistance.”
Meantime, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he “remains deeply concerned” for those thousands impacted by the giant storm.
The UN chief said in a statement that he was especially concerned “for the tens of thousands of people affected in Grand Bahamas and Abaco.”
He offered his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the disaster and wished “a speedy recovery to those injured.”
Guterres said the UN was supporting the ongoing government-led rescue and relief efforts, and was contributing assessment teams to join others deploying to the affected areas.
“People who have lost everything urgently need shelter, safe drinking water, food and medicine” he added, calling on donors to provide emergency funding for the humanitarian response and recovery efforts, “as soon as the requirements are known.”
The UN said rescuers have now begun to reach the worst-hit parts of the archipelago, which consists of around 700 islands, stretching across more than 100,000 square miles of ocean, after Dorian made landfall on the weekend as a Category 5 hurricane.