BELIZE CITY, Belize, Tuesday August 9, 2016 – No one died when Hurricane Earl made landfall in Belize last Thursday, but by UNICEF’s count, more than 100,000 children in Belize were affected.
That’s not to say that number of children was physically hurt when the Category 1 system’s heavy winds and rains destroyed buildings and flooded neighbourhoods, according to UNICEF representative Ivan Yerovi.
“When we are talking about potential impact, we’re not saying 110,000 children are suffering or they are currently injured…We have to consider that we’re not only talking about physical damages or injuries. We need to also consider that children may suffer some psycho-social problems. And when we are talking about potential impacted populations we have to consider those aspects as well,” he explained to the Belize media yesterday.
“The physical infrastructure, the household situation and conditions and so on, that’s one thing. But the psychosocial impact on children, that’s something we also need to take into consideration.”
Asked to explain how UNICEF arrived at a figure of 110,000, Yerovi explained it was a calculation based on information from the Statistical Institute of Belize.
Hurricane Earl did not result in any casualties in Belize, although the system, before it reached storm status, was blamed for the deaths of at least six people in the Dominican Republic and then eight people in Mexico after leaving Belize.
UNICEF says lack of access to clean water, poor sanitation, and the risk of mudslides, along with sightings of alligators and snakes in flooded areas, threaten the safety of the country’s most vulnerable children.
The UN agency says it has been working around the clock to give children and families who have been cut off from basic services access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.
Earl also left many homeless.
vvAn initial assessment has estimated the damage to the country’s agriculture sector at over $100,000.