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Hurricane Irma: Oxfam assists those hit hardest by disaster

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Oxfam and its Caribbean partner organisations are helping the most vulnerable people who have lost their homes and livelihoods to recover from the disaster, including ensuring access to clean water and basic sanitation. Irma’s severe flooding and strong winds caused considerable damage to people’s homes, infrastructure and agricultural production.

In Cuba, ten people were reported killed and two million have had to evacuate their homes. Oxfam is still evaluating the extent of the damage on the eastern part of the island, and coordinating our response with partners and Cuban authorities. Large parts of Havana remain flooded and many other towns are without electricity or water.

In the Dominican Republic, Irma left more than 24,000 people displaced, destroyed more than 100 houses, and obliterated over 2,000 hectares of crops. Oxfam is working in the northern coastal provinces of Montecristi and María Trinidad Sanchez, where people's livelihoods were severely affected. Oxfam is calling on the government to provide humanitarian assistance to the most affected people.

In Haiti, Oxfam will concentrate on hygiene and sanitation work in the Nord-Est and Artibonite departments. Our primary goal is to prevent the spread of cholera and other diseases due to damage to water infrastructure. Oxfam will provide safe water in four villages with handwashing points and chlorine tablets. Oxfam is also coordinating a public health and hygiene campaign with government and aid agencies.

Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director, Rachael Le Mesurier, said: “As usual, the hurricane has mostly affected poor people who have precarious housing conditions and insecure livelihoods. They are most vulnerable to climate shocks and do not have the resources to recover. Women particularly bear the brunt of the impact and are central to Oxfam’s efforts of recovery.

“Oxfam calls on governments to tackle the causes behind extreme poverty as part of their national strategies for disaster risk reduction, and invest more in building people’s resilience so they can recover more quickly.”

Donations to Oxfam’s Hurricane Irma appeal can be made online at oxfam.org.nz/irma or by calling 0800 600 700. 

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