UNICEF concerned for mothers and children across Fiji

By Kimiora Kaire-Melbourne

UNICEF is concerned about children, pregnant women and breast feeding mothers across Fiji as devastation from Cyclone Winston becomes more apparent.

Little is known on the status of communities living on the outer islands of Fiji that were directly under the eye of TC Winston. For many of these remote communities, communications are still down and the full extent of damage remains unknown. 

UNICEF New Zealand's Executive Director, Vivien Maidaborn says, "The entire nation of Fiji is reeling after the weekend’s events. The days immediately following an emergency of this kind are always fraught with worry, confusion, loss and intense fear related to how long it will take to fully recover.  

The bulk of the country has been without power for 24 hours while some areas are also without water. The Government is rapidly working to assess the overall situation in order to pinpoint the critical needs. 

The Fijian Government has declared a state of natural disaster for the next 30 days and has initiated the clean-up process by clearing the huge amounts of debris scattered everywhere."  

There has been extreme disruption to all facets of society. It has been announced that schools will be closed for the next week. 

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has authorised the release of up to NZ$170,000 worth of pre-positioned relief supplies, held by non-government partners such as UNICEF, in Fiji. 

Maidaborn says, "While all additional updates and assessments continue to come through from the Government of Fiji and from our colleagues on the ground, UNICEF staff are standing by to assist as required. Visit www.unicef.org.nz for more updates and information."