As the full impact of category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston continues to emerge, Unicef's main concern is for children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers across Fiji. While reports of varying degrees of damage are starting to filter out, little is known on the status of communities living on the outer islands of Fiji that were directly under the eye of Tropical Cyclone Winston. For many of these geographically remote communities, communications are still down and the full extent of damage remains unknown.
The bulk of the country has been without power for 24 hours while some areas are also without water. The Government is rapidly working to assess the overall situation in order to pinpoint the critical needs. The Fijian Government has declared a state of natural disaster for the next 30 days and has initiated the clean-up process by clearing the huge amounts of debris scattered everywhere.
The extreme disruption to all facets of society must not be underestimated, such as the announcement of school closures for the next week.
Alice Clements, a Communications Specialist with Unicef Pacific, said from her base in Suva, Fiji, “The amount of destruction to infrastructure, livelihoods and homes that something like this can do is just immense. It can also completely destroy or severely damage school facilities and health facilities.
"Imagine the situation of a family that lives low near a river in a tin shack. They have crops that they grow and depend on to survive. It’s very possible that a cyclone has destroyed those through water logging. Those same crops are ones that they would sell at the market to make some income. So if their house has been destroyed from flash flooding from the nearby river, then that leaves no food, no home, and no livelihood. It’s likely too that children's educations will be affected by these family setbacks.
"If we are talking about a worst case scenario, in addition to injuries and loss of life, you have a situation where peoples entire lives, top to bottom, have been turned upside down.”
Unicef staff members are standing by to assist as required.
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