The need for humanitarian assistance in Central America after Tropical Storm Eta 09/11/2020

Since the early hours of November 1, Tropical Storm Eta has devastated Central America with heavy rains and floods, causing the death of at least 150 people and leading to millions of others in need of humanitarian assistance.

In countries most affected by Eta - Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador where the storm forced the evacuation of thousands of people and caused significant damage to infrastructure, humanitarian aid organisations have started sending appeals to respond to the humanitarian disaster.

Eta first hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140mph (225km/h) and torrential rains. It then weakened into a tropical depression as it moved into neighbouring Honduras and later Guatemala. Despite its weakened state, Tropical Storm Eta’s devastation has been felt by thousands of people in affected countries.

On November 5, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei informed the media, when the death toll was around 57, that half of the casualties were in a single town, San Cristobal Verapaz, caused by a hillside collapse which buried around 20 houses under thick mud. The President also said that a month’s worth of rain had fallen in less than half a day. Unfortunately, the ongoing heavy rain has left rescue workers unable to reach the worst affected areas, including San Cristobal Verapaz.

Eta is the worst storm Honduras has seen in decades. In a country where fewer than 1 in 5 people in rural areas have access to proper sanitation, and, according to the UN, 40% of people use unsafe water sources, it is feared that the rains caused by the Tropical Storm will worsen an already precarious situation, affecting over 1.6 million people throughout the country. Some 12,000 are now staying in shelters, a difficult situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The storm has also raised concerns related to food supply. According to humanitarian aid agencies, Honduras’ government does not have the capacity to rescue all affected people.

Humanitarian aid organisations have come forward to ease the devastation caused by the storm by working in close coordination with national and local authorities in all affected countries. Volunteers and staff are working tirelessly to support evacuation efforts, locating and rescuing people trapped by the floods and monitoring rivers as water levels rise. They are also providing essential emergency first aid and psychosocial support.

In a world strongly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with elections at the forefront of people’s minds, humanitarian disasters most probably related to climate change bring little international attention.

“Donations for all humanitarian and sustainable development causes are unfortunately too scarce at the moment “said Gaëlle Mogli, Founder of ConnectAID, a combined humanitarian social impact network and “giving” platform where 100% of donations go to international nonprofits. “However, the international needs have never been so high, including for climate-induced natural disasters. We need a shift in society to make international solidarity the norm. This is what we are trying to do at ConnectAID.”

By Anna Robinson, ConnectAID

Source: Reliefweb, UNICEF, BBC, AP, ConnectAID

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