UN Migration Agency Appeals for USD 4.95 Million to Support Communities in Wake of Irma, Jose Devastation

Posted: 
09/19/17

San Jose – In early September, two Category Five hurricanes, Irma and Jose, laid a path of destruction across the Leeward Islands, the eastern Caribbean region, the sub-Bahamian region, Cuba and the United States. IOM, the UN Migration Agency is appealing to the international community for USD 4.95 million to urgently help affected communities rebuild. IOM will provide technical expertise and work with regional and national authorities, as well as local groups, to deliver humanitarian relief, manage human mobility, ensure accountability mechanisms and enable a fast resilience-focused recovery.

IOM has deployed a surge team of six experts to support efforts led by IOM offices in the affected countries. The team has expertise in Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), displacement tracking, shelter management, gender-based violence risk reduction, core relief items support and shelter operations. Based in the coordination hubs in Antigua, Barbados and at a regional level in Panama, the surge experts have already been deployed to the affected islands to conduct assessments, which have been factored into the appeal.

Across 16 countries and overseas territories, a staggering 21 per cent of the combined total population of 26 million was exposed to the detrimental effects of extreme weather. Although the extent of the damage is still being analyzed, early reports suggest a large-scale interruption of basic services and a high concentration of infrastructure damage. Some islands have been made uninhabitable with close to 100 per cent infrastructure damage. Losses incurred by Hurricanes Irma and Jose are anticipated to be as high as USD 62 billion without counting the US. Current estimates state that some 17,000 people are in need of immediate shelter assistance. IOM and the International Federal of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will coordinate the rollout of shelter operations under this appeal. The response will be tailored to the context of each prioritized country and island based on assessments and the needs identified. A large part of IOM's response in this area will involve training local partners in distribution, shelter repair and post-assistance monitoring, as well as supporting community-led construction of transitional shelters and the rehabilitation of damaged houses by providing technical assistance, materials, tools and training. As with all relief operations globally, IOM will encourage the employment of local skilled and non-skilled workers.

Pre-emptive evacuation, displacement and other forms of human mobility across the region spurred on by the hurricanes peaked above two million people. Stranded migrants and undocumented migrants are at risk of not accessing aid, not being able to get evacuated for lack of documentation and vulnerable to traffickers and smugglers. IOM will track the movement of people and their needs to ensure targeted aid. As some people displaced by the hurricanes are living in collective centres and temporary sites rather than with family, IOM will coordinate assistance at these centres, while also improving the living conditions. IOM will also facilitate the voluntary, humane and dignified return of displaced populations to their areas of origin if possible.

In the wake of natural disasters, many factors can negatively affect the safety of women and girls; particularly the exacerbation of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) related risks. These include, but are not limited to, a lack of essential resources, disruption of community services, change of gender roles, disrupted relationships, a lack of privacy, and weakened infrastructure. All national and international actors responding to an emergency have a duty to protect those affected by the crisis, which includes protecting them from GBV. Shelter management activities will be planned and implemented along with GBV risk mitigation interventions that promote safety, dignity and privacy of men, women, boys and girls who seek protection in evacuation centres and other collective sites.

"We cannot spare one more minute waiting to help the communities affected by two of the worse hurricanes seen by the region in years," said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations and Emergencies. "IOM has already started stepping up its assistance but without these vital funds we will not be able to reach the people worst-affected by tragedy after tragedy and most in need of assistance. We are concerned about people sleeping out in the open, the conditions in the collective centres, the safety of women and girls and much more.

"With enhanced funding, we can work with local authorities and groups to address these concerns and protect people who have already gone through more than enough."

IOM has established humanitarian coordination and logistic hubs in Panama for the regional level, in Barbados for the Eastern Caribbean region and in Jamaica for the sub-Bahamian region. Given the geographical spread of affected islands and coordinating entities, IOM will increase the coverage through the presence of a sector coordinator and technical experts, who will work hand in hand with the regional Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), as well as with local governorates’ offices and national emergency management agencies. Transfer of expertise and capacity building will be paramount to this initiative.

IOM's support and appeal are part of the wider inter-agency response plan, which was released on Friday (15/09) and appeals for a total of USD 27 million.

Read IOM's detailed appeal here.

For more information, please contact Jorge Gallo at IOM's Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Tel: +506 2212 5300, Email: jgallo@iom.int

  • IOM staff distributing NFIs in Fort Liberté, Haiti. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

  • In Barbuda, a staggering 99% of the island’s building structures, especially roofs, were visibly damaged. Photo: Kurt Kerrett / UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017