LONDON, September 7, 2017 -- With Hurricane Irma now heading towards Florida, child rights organization Plan International is urging the international community not to forget about Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The destruction that a storm of this magnitude could cause to the Hispaniola Island – which is home to more than 20 million people – has the potential to be catastrophic, the organization warns.
Coming less than a year after Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc across Haiti, Category 5 Hurricane Irma is the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade, with maximum sustained winds of 183 mph.
With the world’s attention now focused on what is likely to come for the U.S., the organization says there is a very real concern that the needs of vulnerable children and their families in Haiti and the Dominican Republic will be overlooked.
“Although we have done everything we can to prepare for the onslaught of Hurricane Irma, we are heading into the complete unknown in terms of the amount of damage it will do,” says Virginia Saiz, Plan International’s Country Director in the Dominican Republic.
“Already, the world’s eyes are on Florida, but there will be thousands of people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic who will need help over the coming days and weeks.
“We are ready to respond, but it is essential that the international community keeps the Dominican Republic and Haiti in its sights. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, and in the Dominican Republic there are many vulnerable families. The international community must not turn its back on them.”
Plan International emergency response specialists are already on the ground and closely monitoring the situation. The organization’s local teams are working with government agencies and communities for both preparedness and response measures.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Spokespersons in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are available for interviews.
About Plan International USA
Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan believes in the power and potential of every child. Working together with children, young people, supporters, and partners, Plan strives for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children.
For more information, please visit PlanUSA.org.