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Solomon Islands - UNICEF NZ Launches Emergency Appeal

Solomon Islands Flooding - UNICEF NZ Launches Emergency Appeal

Donate at: www.unicef.org.nz/solomon-islands

UNICEF NZ has launched an emergency appeal to respond to extreme weather conditions in the Solomon Islands. More than 10,000 people have already been affected in Guadalcanal Province, especially around the capital city of Honiara. Further high risk weather, including a possible tropical cyclone, is predicted for over the weekend.

Donald Burgess, Water, Sanitation and Health Specialist for UNICEF in the Solomon Islands, is in Honiara. He said, “The situation here is very difficult with 5000 people in evacuation centres but many others will not have managed to find shelter and will be sleeping outdoors tonight. We’re really concerned that some of the schools being used as evacuation centres don’t have sanitation. Extreme conditions like this mean the risk of disease is very high.

“Thousands of people will also be without clean water and we heard that people have been using buckets to collect rain water. The continuing severe weather means that no formal assessments have been carried out yet but we’re really concerned about the infrastructure we need to get to people and assess what they need. A key bridge that runs East to West in Honiara is really vulnerable and that could really hamper the relief efforts. UNICEF is the cluster lead for Water, Sanitation and Health and will be reviewing this tomorrow.”

UNICEF currently needs an initial NZ$117,000 (US$100,000) to support logistics and all 11 designated evacuation centres with supplies such as water and sanitation provisions, school tents and materials, as well as communications materials with key health related messages to avoid disease outbreaks.

Funding requirements are expected to increase after the results of detailed needs assessments, especially in the area of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Health). UNICEF will begin to distribute prepositioned supplies from Honiara and Suva as soon as damage assessments have been undertaken.

Dennis McKinlay, UNICEF NZ Executive Director said, “UNICEF is readying staff and resources to respond to this emergency and we’re opening our appeal for funds in anticipation of the needs we’re already hearing about on the ground.

“One of our key concerns at the moment is the thousands of people who need clean water and adequate sanitation but our other main priorities at this time are to ensure all woman and children are protected, and have adequate healthcare.

“During and in the aftermath of an emergency such as this, children are at their most vulnerable. Many kids now know they have no homes to return to after witnessing them being washed away by the floods.”

Prolonged heavy rains caused the Mataniko River to burst its banks resulting in major flooding affecting residential areas along the river bank. There are reports of entire residential areas having been washed away.

Main bridges and the China Town central business district in Honiara have experienced major flooding and remain unpassable. Up to six provinces may be affected and are on Tropical Disturbance Watch: Rennell & Bellona, Western, Russells, Guadalcanal, Makira and Malaita.

UNICEF has had an office in Honiara for many years and staff are in close contact with key partners such as the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and other members of the Pacific Humanitarian Team, of which UNICEF is a member.

Within the Pacific Region, UNICEF actively leads clusters of agencies working in Water and Sanitation, Education and Nutrition, and in Child Protection

Donations can be made at www.unicef.org.nz/solomon-islands


-Ends-

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