UN humanitarian aid arrives in Cuba

08 Nov 2012

imageFirst shipment to Cuba includes 40 tons of essential items for hygiene and cooking, as well as school kits, waterproof canvas for shelter, water tanks and water purification tablets. (Photo: UN Cuba)

Santiago de Cuba - The first flight carrying 40 tonnes of United Nations humanitarian aid for Hurricane Sandy-affected Cubans arrived today in the hardest-hit city of Santiago de Cuba in the eastern part of the country.

The shipment includes essential items for hygiene and cooking, as well as school kits, waterproof canvas for temporary shelter, water tanks and water purification tablets.

Hurricane Sandy hit Cuba’s eastern area on 25 October, affecting mostly the cities of Santiago de Cuba and Holguín. Eleven people died and nearly three million were affected.

“This is the beginning of a medium and long-term support process to recover the most affected provinces,” said UN Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Barbara Pesce-Montero, adding that a second flight with another 40 tonnes of aid is scheduled to arrive in Santiago de Cuba 10 November.

In recent telephone conversation with Cuban President Raul Castro, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon conveyed his condolences for the deaths and damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. The Secretary-General expressed solidarity with the Cuban people and government and further reiterated the United Nation’s support.

This first shipment is part of various UN agencies’ response—including UNDP and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which has allocated US$5million to Cuba from the Central Emergency Response Fund to assist the hurricane-affected population. The Governments of Chile and Colombia joined the UN system’s contribution and are currently supplying cooking kits and waterproof canvas.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has also mobilized nearly 800 tonnes of food, including rice, beans and vegetable oil, in addition to 15 temporary warehouses. The shipment is scheduled to arrive in 10 days.