UN Urges Gender Focus in Hurricane Beryl Response

The United Nations
By Vibhu Mishra

The United Nations has announced a regional response plan to support communities in the islands worst affected by Hurricane Beryl, which swept through the Caribbean last week, leaving a trail of devastation.

The response plan, unveiled on Tuesday, estimates initial requirements at $9 million and targets support for about 43,000 people in Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. These estimates may change as detailed assessments are ongoing.

The plan aims to provide lifesaving multisectoral assistance, complementing Government-led efforts, while ensuring the protection of women, girls and other vulnerable groups from gender-based violence.

It will also support the rapid delivery and resumption of essential services and livelihoods in affected areas, including restoring health, water and sanitation, education and agriculture services.

Gender sensitivity crucial

The plan emphasizes that gender sensitivity will be critical in analyzing the needs, and in

the response, as both countries have a significant proportion of female-headed households.

Nearly half of all households in Grenada, and 39 per cent in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, are headed by women.

The region is also prone to high levels of violence against women and girls, with almost 39 per cent of women in Grenada having experienced violence in a relationship.

Response phases

The initial humanitarian response is expected to take place in two main phases which may overlap in practice, depending on the situation on the ground. This approach will ensure that immediate needs are met while laying the groundwork for long-term recovery.

In the immediate term, humanitarians will work rapidly to expand the scope and scale of aid efforts, including rapid assessments, ramping up delivery, restoring key sectors such as healthcare, and water and sanitation, and addressing protection risks.

Focus will then shift to helping people resume their lives. This phase would include recovery and reconstruction, restoring livelihoods, building resilience, and transiting to longer-term activities.

International solidarity

To kickstart the response, the UN Secretary-General last week allocated $4 million from the Organization's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), including $1.5 million for Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Canada announced $1 million in assistance, to be channeled through UN agencies and the Red Cross. It is also supporting the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

OCHA also urged interested individual donors to make financial contributions to reputable charities or aid agencies and to refrain from in-kind donations, which may not correspond to identified needs or meet required quality standards, potentially creating administrative burdens and undermining local markets.

Contributions can also be made to CERF, the OCHA-UNDP Connecting Business initiative (CBi), or by supporting public advocacy and outreach. Support or contribution provided can be reported online to the Financial Tracking Service to ensure coherence and minimize duplication.

A family stands outside their home damaged by Hurricane Beryl in St. Andrews, Grenada.
A family stands outside their home damaged by Hurricane Beryl in St. Andrews, Grenada.

Strongest hurricane ever in June

Hurricane Beryl was the strongest hurricane in history to form in June in the Atlantic Ocean.

Initially a tropical depression, it rapidly intensified into a Category 4 storm and briefly reached Category 5 status, with winds up to 240 km/h (150 mph).

UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) experts have warned of a "very intense" hurricane season this year, with near-record ocean temperatures and the shift to La Niña conditions.

The agency has predicted up to 25 named storms expected through November. Among them, eight to 13 could develop into hurricanes.

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