Panama/Geneva, 5 September– The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is preparing for a major humanitarian response as Hurricane Irma barrels towards the Caribbean.

The storm has been upgraded to a category 5 – the most powerful category – triggering warnings for a raft of Caribbean nations, including St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Cuba. It is feared that the storm may cut access to some islands.

The forecast as it stands right now is extremely worrying,” said Walter Cotte, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas. “We are anticipating major impacts on a number of islands, and we are preparing to respond to needs that may arise. We are especially worried that Irma could affect areas that have been suffering with severe rainfall in the past months.

“One of the main challenges is going to be logistical, given the isolation of some the islands. We need to ensure a reliable channel for relief efforts in the aftermath of the hurricane.”

Red Cross Societies are already active, mobilizing volunteers to the possible affected areas and relaying public awareness messages. Relief supplies are on standby in Panama and the Dominican Republic to ensure an immediate response should it be needed.

IFRC has released more than 120,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support Red Cross preparedness efforts in Antigua and Barbuda and St Kitts and Nevis, with additional allocations possible in the near future.

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Media contacts

In Panama
Diana Medina
+507 6780-5395

In the Dominican Republic
Daniel Ureña
+1 849 2710053

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Ines Brill
+509 3170-7809
+88 1651460203

In Geneva
Matthew Cochrane
+41 79 251 80 39