NEW YORK (November 19, 2020) – With powerful hurricanes battering Central America twice in less than two weeks, UNICEF is urgently appealing for $42.6 million to meet the most critical humanitarian needs of over 646,000 people hit repeatedly by deadly floods and landslides in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize.
Across seven Central American countries, Hurricane Eta affected about 4.6 million people among them around 1.8 million children, according to initial estimates by UNICEF. About a week later, Iota, this year’s strongest forecasted Atlantic hurricane, has brought heavy rainfall leading to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in parts of Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama.
“We thought Hurricane Eta was bad, but Hurricane Iota may end up being even worse for children in Central America,” said Bernt Aasen, UNICEF Regional Director, a.i., for Latin America and the Caribbean. “It’s one hurricane after the other, but stronger each time. In less than two weeks, the same communities have been slammed twice and are still inundated. The hurricane season is not over and water has yet to recede. The humanitarian needs of families and children are immense and keep growing day by day.”
UNICEF requires $42.6 million to reach more than 646,000 people, including 327,000 children, with lifesaving supplies and services, in shelters and communities, and in the most affected areas in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. As the needs are anticipated to increase after Hurricane Iota has swept across Central America, this initial funding ask is very likely to significantly rise in the coming days and weeks.
“Children who survived both hurricanes are now at risk of dying from waterborne and other infectious diseases,” said Bernt Aasen. “Cases of hepatitis and malaria have already been reported in some shelters. In addition, persistent rainfall and COVID-19 movement limitations hinder our humanitarian access to some of the most affected areas. We urgently need more resources to deliver life-saving assistance to the children worst hit by the storms.”
Two weeks ago, UNICEF teams and its partners across Central America immediately started delivering life-saving items and humanitarian support to families most in need:
- In Honduras, over 10,000 children are benefiting from improved conditions in shelters, including through the provision of mental health support and life-saving supplies; 4,500 vulnerable families are receiving in-kind social transfers by local governments, with UNICEF support; and 5,000 people in shelters have been reached with key WASH humanitarian items and services, including supplies for menstrual health.
- In Nicaragua, UNICEF donated WASH supplies that are being distributed by authorities, aiming at benefiting 15,000 families. More than 34,000 people have been reached with prevention messages. An additional 6,000 families received hygiene kits, and 600 kits for psychosocial support in shelters are being procured to be delivered in the coming days.
- In Guatemala, through authorities, UNICEF is distributing 1,900 personal hygiene kits, providing logistical support to teams deployed to monitor the situation of health services, and disseminating prevention messages via community radio in local languages. Water treatment plants were made available in affected municipalities.
- In Belize, UNICEF is providing supplies for affected communities, including education kits to 120 families, PPE, blankets and bed sheets, and plastic tarpaulin.
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to pursue a more equitable world for every child. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.
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