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Dec 3, 2020

UNICEF Partners with U.S. Embassy and Others to Distribute Care Packages to Flood Victims in Cayo

A News Five crew headed west today where UNICEF has partnered with NEMO and the Belize Red Cross to provide aid packages to hundreds of families that have been affected by the recent floods. Collaborating with the UN organization was the U.S. Embassy, which provided over half a million dollars to reduce the risk and impact to vulnerable children in the affected areas. Distribution began today and reporter Duane Moody files this report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Today, a handing over ceremony was held in San Ignacio. UNICEF in collaboration with the Belize Red Cross, NEMO and funding from the U.S. Embassy in Belize is executing a joint emergency response for COVID-19 and Hurricane Eta. So throughout the course of today and the next few days, some three hundred and fifty affected families will be receiving care packages. Country Representative Alison Parker says data shows that forty-two percent or approximately twenty-five thousand children have been affected by the disaster.


Alison Parker

Alison Parker, Country Representative, UNICEF Belize

“When the family loses the home, when the family loses property, when the family loses livelihood, children are the worst affected. They are affected because there are issues of nutrition, there are issues of health because there is water contamination and disease outbreak. There are issues of education because then they may lose all their books and learning equipment so that’s another key consideration. And there is the issue of livelihood; the family does not have anything to provide and it is the kids who ultimately suffer the most.”


Six hundred thousand Belize dollars was provided by the U.S. Embassy to support this comprehensive response to the critical needs to reduce the risks among the most vulnerable children and families. This funding is made possible through the embassy and the United States Agency for International Development.


Keith Gilges

Keith Gilges, Chargé d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy in Belize

“We were dealing with one crisis, the [COVID-19] pandemic, and then within that crisis, there became an event more urgent crisis which is people separated from their homes due to very quick flooding. So we said let’s take what should have been partly crisis response to COVID and re-programme that and let’s do what makes sense in the end. Again, the expertise at this table, we all bring different things and in this instance, why I am sitting here is because we brought the money.”


The effects of Hurricanes Eta and Iota are still being felt across the country, and specifically so in central Belize where inundated streets, yards and flood waters can still be seen. While for the most part in the west, water levels are down significantly and a number of residents have been able to return home, there are others who remain in shelters. An assessment shows that four hundred plus families have been affected in the Cayo District alone.


John Ramclam

John Ramclam, Cayo District Emergency Coordinator, NEMO

“It’s a little bit over four hundred families that had gotten immediately affected by flood water associated with Hurricane Eta and Iota. The DANA (Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis) assessment when it comes to infrastructure is still underway.”


Among those displaced persons are the Ramirez family from Calla Creek. They have been sheltering at Clarissa Falls since November seventh; almost a month later and they still cannot return to their home as access to their property remains cut-off by water.


Henry Ramirez

Henry Ramirez, Resident, Calla Creek Village

“Almost a month going. The seventh will be a month already out from home. We were worried about the potable water since the pipes were broken and the bridge was watched away and we can’t go across easily to the other side.  We have damages at home. But thanks to the Lord we didn’t lose any lives. We lose material things, but that we can recover day by day with the help of our Lord.”


Providing the on-the-ground support in terms of distribution of the aid packages to the affected families are the volunteers from the Cayo branch of the Belize Red Cross. Heading that division is Rodel Beltran Perrera.


Rodel Beltran Perrera

Rodel Beltran Perrera, Board Member, Belize Red Cross

“The Belize Red Cross has a cadre of volunteers countrywide. We have seven branches so we at the Red Cross are able to respond to any disaster along with our government partners, NEMO, to disasters in those areas and San Ignacio is one of those.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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