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UN Continues Rushing Aid to Central America

UN Continues Rushing Aid to Disaster-Struck Central American Countries

New York, Oct 11 2005 6:00PM

United Nations agencies are continuing to send relief aid to parts of Central America torn by the devastating effects of Hurricane Stan and other disasters, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has transported more than 300 metric tonnes of food assistance to El Salvador’s more than 500 shelters, reaching 70,000 people. More than 65,000 people have been displaced in the country.

“We don’t have exact figures yet, but the demographics of the affected areas suggest that more than a third of the victims of this tragedy are children,” the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg, said.

In many indigenous villages hit by the flooding or affected by volcanic eruptions, children and adolescents make up close to 50 per cent of the population, according to UNICEF, which is sending 2,000 hygiene kits to meet the needs of 10,000 people, 50,000 packages of oral re-hydration tablets to prevent death from diarrhoea, and other health and educational supplies.

UNICEF will also supply psychosocial rehabilitation support for the children there and is working with the Ministry of Education to re-open the more than 83 schools that were destroyed or badly damaged.

In Costa Rica, where some 5,000 people were displaced and 700 are in temporary shelters, UNICEF will provide fuel for helicopters to ferry food and other aid to remote areas. In Mexico, where close to 1,000 schools were destroyed, UNICEF is providing 6,000 school kits and $150,000 in school aid for the State of Chiapas.

In Guatemala the official death toll now stands at 652 with hundreds more reported missing, and it is estimated that 130,000 people in 420 communities, representing more than three quarters if the municipalities, have been affected. Entire villages have been swept away by the more than 900 landslides there. In response, the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team has met with various agencies to coordinate an immediate response.


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