The storm is the strongest to have struck the region in nine years with thousands of people forced to leave their homes, schools damaged and livelihoods ruined. The destruction caused is expected to increase as the hurricane continues.
The UK is working with the United Nations, NGOs and governments in the region to establish the exact extent of the damage and identify the most urgent humanitarian needs.
The Department for International Development (DFID) already has three humanitarian experts in the region who helped countries prepare before the hurricane hit. DFID is working closely with the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office to make further preparations.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
My thoughts are with the people across the region affected by the impact of Hurricane Matthew.
Homes have been destroyed, loved ones have been lost and people’s livelihoods shattered. The British people will be there for those in need which is why we have already deployed experts on the ground to help assess what support from UK Aid is needed.
History has shown that when disasters such as this strike, the initial destruction is only the start: economic growth and development are stunted, and children and women become increasingly vulnerable and need urgent protection. Global Britain is ready to provide further support where it is needed most.
British support comes on top of work the UK has already been doing in the region to prepare vulnerable countries for natural disasters. In Haiti, which has previously experienced the devastating impact of natural disasters, DFID has been supporting people living in high risk areas to prepare for extreme weather. We have helped communities develop resilient crops and improve farming techniques so families can continue to eat, work and survive through emergencies.
The UK will continue to support the international community’s efforts to get urgent help to those who have suffered Hurricane Matthew’s destructive path. We stand by and are prepared to provide additional humanitarian support where it is needed most, to help minimise the humanitarian suffering and avert an even greater crisis.