According to the United Nations (OCHA), 17 million people are affected by this regional crisis in which conflict and insecurity has destroyed lives and livelihoods and forced millions to flee their homes. The majority of the displaced are sheltered by communities who are among the poorest in the world. Across the region, one in three families is food insecure, and malnutrition rates have reached critical levels. One in every two people needs urgent humanitarian assistance. The situation has been further exacerbated by recent floods due to heavy rains during July and August, which displaced a further 250,000 people in Nigeria and 82,000 in Niger; and a cholera outbreak in northeastern Nigeria.
CARE is providing assistance in Cameroon (water, sanitation and hygiene support to 90,000 people); Chad (food, livelihoods and WASH support to 67,000 people); Niger (food, livelihoods, WASH and protection support to 256,000 people); and Nigeria, where a new programme will provide sexual and reproductive health services (including family planning and maternal health services) targeting 136,000 women and girls.
More than 200 people are reported to have died after a strong earthquake struck central Mexico, causing huge damage to buildings in Mexico City and surrounding regions. CARE has previously worked in Mexico, most recently in 2015-16 when we supported programme delivery through strategic partnerships, but we do not currently have a presence in Mexico. CARE International will be monitoring the level of humanitarian need following the earthquake, and our thoughts are with the survivors and the families of those affected.
CARE emergency teams in Haiti are preparing to respond in areas potentially affected by Hurricane Maria, which is projected to pass northeast of Haiti but could still cause significant damage in the country’s north. CARE is readying clean drinking water, food and emergency supplies such as tarps for shelter.
Some areas of the country are extremely vulnerable to flash flooding and mudslides, in addition to the potential damage caused by heavy winds and rains during the hurricane. The populations most likely to be affected are those who live in coastal zones, low-lying and flood-prone areas, and mountainous areas. Most at risk in those areas are those who live in poorly-constructed housing and those who are already living in situations of severe poverty and vulnerability.
In the past three weeks, more than 400,000 people from Myanmar have fled to Bangladesh after an escalation of violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. Most of the refugees (around 80 percent) are women, children and small babies. Zia Choudhury, CARE Bangladesh’s Country Director, says:
The situation of the refugees is worsening by the minute. They came to Bangladesh with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. They walked for long distances for days to reach safety.
CARE Bangladesh’s emergency team is distributing food in Cox’s Bazar district, where most refugees have sought shelter. CARE has worked in Cox’s Bazar for many years, helping people in the areas of food security, disaster risk reduction, women’s empowerment and emergency response.
The Government of Bangladesh and local authorities are working hard to meet the needs of the refugees. Local Bangladeshi families, with few resources themselves, are taking in the refugees and have been supporting them however they can. But the scale of this crisis means that much more help is needed. Choudhury says:
In Cox’s Bazar, close to the Myanmar border, families are sleeping in fields and on muddy paths. They have nowhere else to go. The people who have fled Rakhine State are in desperate need of clean drinking water, food, medical help and a safe place to sleep.
CARE is also concerned that the ongoing rains will further worsen the situation. Choudhury says: “People will need to build more stable shelter as soon as possible. They will need strong tarpaulin, bamboo and rope to remain safe during the rains.”
CARE’s assessment teams in Cuba report that some communities are still completely cut off. In some communities along the north coast at least half the homes have been partially or totally destroyed. High winds have blown off roofs while flooding washed away personal possessions and household contents. Power and telephone lines are down and schools, fields, buildings and key infrastructure have been impacted.
“The extent of the damage is becoming more and more alarming,” says Richard Paterson, CARE’s country representative in Cuba. “Extended electrical outages are beginning to affect people’s access to clean drinking water and food.”
CARE and local partners are preparing to support the Cuban government’s relief and recovery efforts with emergency programming initially targeting 20,000 people in the provinces of Villa Clara, Camaguey and Holguin. CARE will focus on clean water, hygiene and sanitation support and also look to help people with shelter assistance to repair damaged homes.
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