For immediate release: October 19, 2011
Torrential rains have hit Central America hard, causing deadly floods in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, Caritas Australia reports.
Caritas Australia Latin America Program Coordinator, Margaret Fyfe, said 12 out of 14 regions have been severely affected by the downpour, with over 13,000 people forced to flee the rising waters.
“You have to understand that these floods have had an enormous impact on Central America,” Sister Fyfe said.
“These countries do have well established disaster risk reduction systems in place, but when you have 12 out of 14 regions affected, there is no way the two remaining regions can supply the response which is required.”
Caritas teams on the ground also said many roads and bridges had been destroyed, making it difficult to reach survivors. A team from Caritas El Salvador is carrying out further assessments.
Sister Fyfe said there were serious concerns flooding will have longer-term consequences with much of this season’s harvest destroyed.
“Food security in the coming months is a major concern as much of the crops are already lost,” Sister Fyfe said.
Meanwhile the situation in Guatemala is deteriorating, according to Caritas Guatemala.
The Government has declared a natural disaster, with an estimated 154,000 people affected, 30,000 homes destroyed and 6,913 evacuations.
More than 8,000 people are now in temporary accommodation, 29 are confirmed dead and three people remain missing.
“These figures give you some idea of the magnitude of the situation. But when you consider there is a human face to the numbers, we’re dealing with a tragic event,” Sister Fyfe said.
“For those people who know this region and want to help, there is a great need for us to stand in solidarity.”
The Choluteca region of Honduras is also on high alert. The Caritas network is working with regional members in responding to humanitarian needs.
Across Central America the Caritas network is assisting in providing temporary accommodation, medical attention, clothing, food and water for thousands in the region.
Caritas Australia has an Emergency Relief Fund which targets disasters around the world. It is not yet funding this crisis in Central America. For more information go to www.caritas.org.au or ph: 1800 024 413
Media contact: Ryan Heffernan 0408 869 833