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US Providing More Aid to Guatemala, El Salvador

United States Providing Additional Aid to Guatemala, El Salvador

Increased U.S. help earmarked for victims of Central American natural disasters

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The United States is providing additional assistance to the victims of recent natural disasters in Central America.

In an October 10 statement, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala said the U.S. Army's Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) will provide search-and-rescue assistance through helicopter missions in Guatemala and will continue to assist in transporting critically needed relief and emergency personnel to remote areas of the country.

SOUTHCOM also will help in reconstruction efforts in Guatemala, which might include such assistance as transporting U.S.-donated medical equipment and equipment for rebuilding bridges, schools and energy facilities. SOUTHCOM, based in Miami, is the regional U.S. military command that works with Latin America and the Caribbean.

The embassy said the U.S. government is committed to working closely with the Guatemalan government and people to meet the emergency needs caused by Hurricane Stan, which hit the country October 4. In addition to SOUTHCOM's efforts, the U.S. Embassy, including its U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in the country, is continuing to provide critical food, water and hygiene supplies to meet priority needs as requested and coordinated by Coordinadora Nacional para la Reduction de Desastres (CONRED), Guatemala's national disaster-response agency.

The State Department said in an October 7 public announcement that heavy rainfall produced by storms associated with Hurricane Stan caused floods and landslides in many regions of Guatemala, resulting in extensive loss of life. Most major highways were cut off, including those leading to several tourist destinations. The State Department said at least two landslides were reported on the country's main highway from Guatemala City to the Mexican border. Areas along the Pacific Coast were suffering from rising rivers that washed away some roads and bridges and threatened others.

EL SALVADOR

In a separate action, the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador announced October 7 that the United States has donated $50,000 more for emergency-relief assistance in that Central American country in the wake of heavy rains and flooding.

With this new contribution, the United States has donated $100,000 to assist El Salvador in its current emergency. The aid is being channeled through the international relief and development agency Catholic Relief Services. That agency, based in Baltimore, used the first $50,000 U.S. donation to distribute emergency goods for shelters in several areas of El Salvador. The new donation will be used to provide support to shelters in the cities of Ahuachapán, Santa Ana and Sonsonate.

In addition, USAID provided El Salvador with 55 boxes of reinforced plastic sheeting to be used for the construction of temporary shelters for about 1,650 people. That donation is worth $15,400.

The State Department's October 7 public announcement for El Salvador warned about the dangerous conditions in that country -- including flooding and mudslides -- in the aftermath of Hurricane Stan and the eruption of the Ilamatepec volcano.

The department noted El Salvador's government on October 4 declared a nationwide state of emergency as a result of continuous torrential rains and flooding. More than 50 deaths in El Salvador have been attributed to weather-related events, primarily mudslides.

The Salvadoran government has established more than 150 shelters and evacuated more than 34,000 people from the areas most heavily affected, including evacuations in the immediate vicinity of Ilamatepec, which threatens further eruptions.

Additional travel information about conditions in Guatemala and El Salvador are available on the State Department's Web site at http://travel.state.gov/.

COSTA RICA

USAID announced on October 4 that it also was providing $50,000 in disaster assistance to Costa Rica, where heavy rains killed at least eight people and displaced another 1,600. USAID said it is continuing to monitor closely the situation in Costa Rica.

The United Nations said October 10 it is launching a $22 million "flash appeal" for Guatemala. The organization said the floods and mudslides caused by Hurricane Stan killed hundreds of people and inflicted estimated damage of more than $400 million to the country's livestock, coffee and banana industries.

The United Nations said Guatemala suffered more than 900 landslides, with entire villages swept away.

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