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UN Assists Peru After Snowstorms Threaten Lives

UN Assists Peru After Snowstorms Threaten Lives In Highlands

United Nations emergency relief programmes are channelling money, food and warm clothes to Peruvians today after snowstorms, accompanied by strong freezing winds, have destroyed more than 3,000 houses and threatened the survival of more than 150,000 people in the south and central highlands.

Responding to an appeal from the Peruvian Government for international support, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it gave a grant of $25,000 to the Government while channelling another $25,000 from Denmark.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is also raising $200,000 to help the over 158,800 affected people.

With the temperature in the south and central highlands dipping to -26 degrees Centigrade though winter has not fully set in, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) sent its office in Apurimac 2,000 blankets and warm clothes for infants and 500 other articles of heavy clothing.

The snow has reportedly destroyed 3,082 homes, 80 schools and has blocked roads, ruined grazing land and killed herds of cattle, mainly alpacas and llamas.

OCHA said the number so far of reported dead cattle, the main food sources in the highlands, has risen from 38,000 to over 114,200, while 300,000 hectares of food crops have been destroyed and another 347,000 hectares have been damaged.

The Peruvian Government declared a State of Emergency in eight provinces as it provided food, blankets, plastic rolls, tents and clothing for affected people, but the high altitudes - 4,000 metres above sea level - and slippery roads have made humanitarian access difficult.

In addition, the government officials said they feared that a possible lack of information may have led the highland population to underestimate the weather's impact.

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