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Solomon Islands Flooding – Up to 49,000 People Affected

Solomon Islands Flooding – Up to 49,000 People Affected

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

As the severe weather begins to subside in Honiara and the Guadalcanal province, the focus is now on the estimated 49,000 people affected by what is considered to be the worst flooding ever seen in the Solomon Islands.

On Saturday, the Solomon Islands Government began to undertake initial damage and needs assessments. The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) requested the deployment of all Pacific Humanitarian Team clusters, which includes UNICEF. Coordination support from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Pacific has also been requested.

Donald Burgess, UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist (WASH) in Honiara said, “At this stage, our priorities lie is making sure that the estimated 12,000 people spread out between 14 evacuation centres are safe and have adequate access to water, food and other non food items such as blankets and sleeping mats”, said Mr Burgess.

“In emergency situations like this, coordination is vital. UNICEF is leading efforts in the crucial area of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). Today (Sunday), a WASH meeting will take place with key stakeholders to identify next steps, and potential gaps and risks in order to guarantee access to water and sanitation.UNICEF is also leading and coordinating efforts around education and child protection. Both areas are essential in ensuring children remain safe and able to return to some kind of normality through education as soon as possible.

UNICEF NZ Executive Director Dennis McKinlay added, “The fact that the weather has cleared enough for initial assessments to be undertaken is a huge positive. Some shops are also up and running but warn they only have enough stockpiled to last a few weeks. Food security will be a huge concern in the coming weeks.
“Our focus now is on meeting the immediate needs of the12,000 people in evacuation centres and assessing the needs of 37,000 others that we currently know very little about. As soon as the airport is operational again, UNICEF will mobilise staff from Fiji to assist the Honiara staff. Conditions on the ground remain difficult however with reports of intermittent Internet services and disruptions to water and electricity supplies.

Mr McKinlay concluded, “In an emergency situation such as this, coordination is the key element. Agencies like UNICEF work closely with other NGOs and Government to ensure efforts and resources are being maximised and expertise are put to their best uses. In order to carry out this much needed work we need funding from our generous supporters. Please go to www.unicef.org.nz/solomon-islands to make a donation.”
-Ends-

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