The United Nations World Food Programme airlifted ten metric tons of ready-to-eat food today from its emergency hub in Barbados to help assist 20,000 victims of Tropical Storm “Noel”.
This storm caught a lot of people by surprise and they were unable prepare. Now, they suddenly find themselves with nothing to eat and are unable to return home
WFP Regional Director Pedro Medrano
Thousands of people have fled to improvised emergency shelters which urgently require food.
“We have to move as quickly as possible to get food to the most vulnerable,” said WFP Regional Director Pedro Medrano.
“This storm caught a lot of people by surprise and they were unable prepare. Now, they suddenly find themselves with nothing to eat and are unable to return home,” he said.
Tropical Storm Noel hit parts of Cuba, and most of Haiti and the Dominican Republic earlier this week.
In the Dominican Republic, at least 64,000 people have been affected by the storm which left 73 people dead, 43 missing and 15,000 homes damaged or destroyed.
The storm follows a period of very heavy rain and floods which struck much of the Caribbean and Central America two weeks ago.
WFP’s food airlift to the Dominican Republic is part of a preliminary effort to feed flood victims for seven days.
Subsequently, the agency plans to assist an additional 30,000 of the most affected people with food for 20 days while they recover.
In addition to the airlift of ready-to-eat High Energy Biscuits, WFP will be shipping 44 tons of food by sea, which will arrive next week.
The bulk of the food assistance to be provided over the coming month will be purchased locally.
The food supplies for the Dominican Republic are part of a US$488,000 Immediate Response project which WFP has just approved. WFP’s Regional Office in Panama has also deployed a three-person emergency team to assist.
Meanwhile, information on the storm’s impact on Haiti has begun to slowly trickle in.
Precise assessments on damage have been hampered by poor communications. Initial indications are that over 40 people were killed, 55 injured, and 11,000 have sought refuge in shelters.
WFP is diverting food from its existing operations in-country to assist victims, some of whom are still coping with the effects of heavy rains and floods two weeks ago.
WFP is sending High Energy Biscuits to the flood-affected population in two of the hardest-hit areas, drawing from pre-positioned supplies.