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Oxfam staff respond to Hurricane Matthew

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As Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in the Caribbean, Oxfam staff in the region have the latest updates. 

Jean Claude Fignole, Oxfam's Influence Program director in Haiti, said:

"There is heavy rain and strong winds here in Port-au-Prince. We are hearing of roofs being torn off houses and of storm surges up to 20 feet. One immediate concern is convincing people of the need to evacuate - I've heard reports of people deciding to find safe shelter or move to higher ground under the full thrust of the storm.

"Water is going to be a major issue as of today. Our priority is to get clean water and hygiene items to families as fast as possible to avoid a spike in cases of cholera. In the weeks and months to come, hunger is likely to emerge as big concern. Some crops in the South of the country have been totally destroyed.

"Oxfam has teams deployed to six priority areas in support of the Haitian Government including in the South, which has borne the brunt of the storm. We are preparing to provide drinking water and hygiene kits to people in these areas.

"Thankfully the force of the storm was not so strong in Port au Prince where 50,000-60,000 people are still living in tents after the earthquake of 2010."

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Younes Karroum, Oxfam binational program manager (Haiti - Dominican Republic), said:

"The catastrophe is likely to be very big, major cities are being flooded and communications have been cut off as of 5am this morning. The only way to communicate is by satellite phone. Many bridges have been destroyed. The most complicated task will be to respond with aid and support in the South of the country, however we fear that the main access roads will be closed at various points."
 
"The president has spoken in the past two days recommending that people leave homes that are most at risk. Civil Protection teams are present in all schools and places of refuge, like shelters. People have been implored to take this advice very seriously, because Haiti has had many crises and sometimes people here cannot envisage the size of the impact. That was one of the great fears we had."
 
"The first need is to save lives and to help people who are in crisis by flooding or whose homes have been destroyed. After that, the priority will be to provide safe water, food and 'first response' aid like shelters and sanitation. We are worried about potential cholera outbreaks too: with these floods there will probably be a big increase in contaminated water and possible spread of disease."

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Jerome Faure, Oxfam director in Cuba, said:

"Oxfam is on the ground and ready to respond in eastern Cuba as communities prepare for hurricane Matthew to hit this afternoon.”
 
“Oxfam has been working in the area - already one of Cuba’s most vulnerable - for over 20 years, and was able to rapidly set up and evaluation team to assess damages to infrastructure and the impact on communities."

"Oxfam carried out a significant humanitarian response after hurricane Sandy struck in 2012. This has given us the experience we need to help communities better prepare for these types of shocks and bounce back quickly. We are supporting the Cuban government’s system for risk reduction and management and will work in coordination with them to ensure support reaches those who need it most."

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For more information, contact:

Lauren Hartnett
Humanitarian Media Lead
New York, NY
Cell: (203) 247-3920
Email: [email protected]

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