Belize - Hurricane Iris OCHA Situation Report


5. According to PAHO/WHO, it is estimated that approximately 50,000 are likely to have been directly affected (total population of Belize: 235,789 in 1999). There are reports of some communities left isolated, approximately 3,000 people in the south, due to the damage to roads and bridges.

6. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) made a joint Belize Red Cross/IFRC reconnaissance mission by air and ground on 10 October. Rice, cacao, coffee, banana, corn and papaya crops have been destroyed as well as most food stocks. The hurricane also destroyed electricity lines, disrupting pump-delivered water supplies and posing a health threat.

7. According to PAHO/WHO, noticeable contamination from flooded septic tanks, latrines, solid waste dumpsites and oil and gasoline spills has been reported. The Toledo District Hospital suffered roof damages. The impact of the hurricane on mental health is apparent in a high level of distress, anxiety and helplessness among villagers and local authorities in the affected area.

National/International Response

8. The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team arrived in Belmopan on 10 October. (Five members: OCHA, UNDP/El Salvador, Civil Defense/ Nicaragua, National Disaster Management Office/Haiti and the National Emergency Management Office/Belize).

9. Upon arrival, the UNDAC team met with the Disaster Assessment Committee of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and the United Nations Disaster Management Team (UNDMT). It was agreed that the UNDAC team would assist in coordinating /validating damage and needs assessment, and advising on the identification of donors. Information gathered by the UNDAC team will be shared with NEMO and UNDMT. Three members of the Team will participate, together with NEMO, UNDP- Belize and UNICEF, in a two-day damage and needs assessment mission to the affected areas of the Stann Creek and Toledo districts in the southern Belize.

10. The Government of Mexico, through the Ministry of Health, has fielded two medical teams and post-hurricane medical supplies. USAID/OFDA has contributed USD 100,000 for immediate relief needs of the affected population.