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500,000 Homeless In El Salvador

A Red Cross assessment has shown that about 500,000 people have been left homeless by the earthquake which hit El Salvador on January 13, the New Zealand Red Cross said today.

“According to a comprehensive damage and needs assessment conducted by the Salvadorean Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, more than 180,000 houses have been damaged, of which 75,000 are completely destroyed,” said New Zealand Red Cross International Programmes Co-ordinator, Greg Clewley.

He said the disaster directly affected more than one million people or one in six Salvadoreans.

The International Federation today launched an appeal for over NZ$7.5 million for the provision of assistance to more than 150,000 people who have been displaced by the disaster. To date, New Zealand Red Cross has received $120,000 in donations.

The Salvadorean Red Cross will provide for the basic needs and/or resettlement of 30,000 families in the several regions, and is also taking responsibility for the management of the "Cafetalon" shelter in Santa Tecla, near the capital San Salvador. This is the largest shelter in the country and currently home to some 4,200 people.

Around the country the Red Cross is distributing food and items such as hygiene articles, kitchen sets and bed sets. Mobile Red Cross water and sanitation teams will focus on the cleaning of some 1,200 wells in the coastal area and also on setting up water tanks and organising water distribution for more than 25,000 people in the Sonsonate region.

"Those living in precarious conditions in temporary and makeshift shelters are especially vulnerable to outbreaks of dengue fever, malaria and diarrhoeal diseases." Mr Clewley said. Mobile community health brigades will be formed to focus on prevention and early treatment of communicable diseases, health promotion and epidemiological surveillance.

New Zealanders can call 0900-33 200 to make an automatic $20 donation, or post a donation to Freepost Red Cross, PO Box 12-140, Wellington.


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