As Hurricane Willa Closes In on Mexico, UNICEF Stands Ready to Help

October 22, 2018

UNICEF is there for children whenever and wherever disaster strikes. As Hurricane Willa approaches Mexico's coast, UNICEF stands ready to help.

A leader in emergencies with a core commitment to protecting children in humanitarian crises, UNICEF possesses both the means and expertise to reach them with lifesaving assistance — no matter where they are. With the world's largest humanitarian warehouse in Copenhagen, UNICEF can deploy supplies anywhere in the world in 48 to 72 hours to provide affected children with the clean, safe water, nutrition and protection they so desperately need when disaster strikes.   

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Willa, an "extremely dangerous" category 4 hurricane, is now bearing down on a stretch of Mexico's Pacific coast that is dotted with fishing villages and high-rise resorts. The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm, with its sustained 130 mile-per-hour winds, will move over or near Las Islas Marias by afternoon and make landfall along the west-central coast of mainland Mexico in the late afternoon or evening.

UNICEF is closely monitoring the storm.

Much like devastating Hurricanes Florence and Michael, both of which began as tropical cyclones then rapidly intensified, Hurricane Willa quickly ramped up over the weekend, giving residents little time to prepare. The potential hazards, according to the National Hurricane Center, are significant.

Residents are being warned of an extremely dangerous storm surge with "large and destructive waves" and 6 to 12 inches of rain, which could cause life-threatening flash flooding.

Hurricane Willa hits a nation that has yet to recover from two devastating earthquakes that struck a little over one year ago. On Sept. 7, 2017, the very same region Willa now threatens was struck by an 8.2 magnitude earthquake, which killed nearly 100 people. Twelve days later, on Sept. 19, a second major quake shook Mexico City and the surrounding central region, killing 200 more and toppling buildings and bridges in five states.

An estimated 5 million children were affected.

Though recovery efforts have made much progress over the past year, serious challenges remain. In Chiapas and Oaxaca, more than 3,400 schools are still closed. Homes have running water again, but water systems have not yet returned to full capacity. Though 37 Child-Friendly Spaces were opened to give 8,290 children and adolescents and 1,050 parents and caregivers a safe place to play, heal, socialize and receive emotional support, the existing facilities and services cannot meet the continuing, pressing need.  

Now, as Mexico faces another deadly natural threat, UNICEF will continue tracking the storm's progress and assess the potential impact on children. As with our successful partnerships following Hurricane Harvey (City of Houston) and Hurricane Maria (Puerto Rico), our efforts will adhere to UNICEF's core priorities: health, education, child protection and psychosocial support.

Across the globe, UNICEF responds where help is needed most. Last year, UNICEF responded to 337 humanitarian emergencies in 102 countries.

 

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Photo at top: © NASA