Dominica in dire need for housing

Three weeks since category five Hurricane Maria ripped through Dominica, the United Nations migration agency says housing is the “most urgent need” for the island, adding that the scope of the damage remains daunting, with Dominicans also in dire need of water, electricity, food and supplies.

Noting that an estimated 23 percent of the small Caribbean nation’s homes have been flattened, Jean Philippe Antolin, head of response operations in the Caribbean for the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) said: “Those houses do not exist anymore. They have either been blown into the sea or totally scattered in pieces across the island.”

In addition, some 39 per cent of the houses have sustained severe damage, and a further 28 per cent have been affected to some degree said IOM on Tuesday in carrying out an array of activities as part of the response.

Antolin underscored that the numbers reflect the “painful human situations” in the shelters where more than 2,000 Dominicans are still living, while the rest are staying with relatives and friends.

He said a mother and her children took cover in a local school just before the hurricane hit, and are still living in one of the classrooms with another family.

“My home just vanished into thin air. Nothing, nothing left to remember from it. Everything is gone,” she told IOM.

The UN said the agency has responded through promoting an array of activities, including supply delivery, coordination of shelter management, and pipelining international donations.

IOM said it has released US$100,000 to scale up shelter response, and an additional US$350,000 has been secured from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

The UN said many Dominicans are still returning to their homes to salvage their belongings and clear debris during the day, but sleep in shelters or with host families.

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