As Central America's torrential rains continue, UN offers relief

Oct 25, 2011

A woman is evacuated from the El Icaco community in Usulután, El Salvador. (Photo: Tania Moreno/WFP El Salvador)

The United Nations and the Government of Nicaragua launched an urgent appeal to donors (Flash Appeal) today for US$ 14.3 million to assist 134,000 people affected by the floods over the next six months.

On 25 October the UN and the Government of El Salvador also launched a Flash Appeal for nearly US$16 million to assist 300,000 people directly affected by the floods for the next six months. The country has experienced the highest precipitation levels in 50 years; nearly 50,000 people are currently living in emergency shelters.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that key priorities include emergency shelter; the delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene services; meeting immediate food needs, access to healthcare and early recovery. Access to affected areas is difficult because many roads are blocked by debris or isolated by flooding and landslides.

According to the latest reports, nearly 1.5 million people have been affected. More than 100 people have lost their lives and over 90,000 are in temporary shelters.

The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in El Salvador, Roberto Valent, called the situation a catastrophe, estimating the destruction costs in the country at more than US$1 billion. Valent also called on the international community to assist  Central America in order to rebuild the flood-affected countries in a more resilient manner, alerting that climate change-related disasters are likely to hit the region again.

In Nicaragua, where over 130,000 people were affected by the rains, and nearly 100 of over 10,000 in emergency shelters contracted the H1N1 influenza strain, UNDP has provided US$100,000 in medical and health-related relief, responding to the government’s request for humanitarian assistance.

Rains from Tropical Depression 12-E began falling on 12 October and continued to date, resulting in significant human and economic losses, including damaged public infrastructure, and destroyed homes, crops and livestock.

UNDP has stressed the importance of starting recovery efforts as swiftly as possible, in the earliest stages of the emergency.

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