Month after hurricane, 50,000 Central Americans still homeless, funds short

Month after hurricane, 50,000 Central Americans still homeless, funds short

Nearly one month after hurricane Stan devastated parts of Central America with flooding and landslides, nearly 50,000 displaced people in Guatemala and El Salvador remain unable to return to their homes and United Nations efforts to raise money for humanitarian relief have not been met with adequate funds.

"Tens of thousands of people in Central America continue to suffer the ravages of Hurricane Stan," UN Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator Yvette Stevens said today, ahead of an information meeting convened by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on assistance to the affected communities.

"The international community must do even more to meet the needs of the most vulnerable," she added. "The poorest and most vulnerable, those with the fewest coping mechanisms, have been the most affected by this disaster. And while there have been many demands on our attention as humanitarians this year, we must once more step forward to meet their needs."

In the storm's aftermath, both Governments requested international aid, prompting the UN to launch a $24 million Flash Appeal for Guatemala, where 32,000 people still cannot return home, while the UN country team in El Salvador, with 15,000 still homeless, called for $13.7 million through a joint inter-agency appeal.

But the Guatemala appeal still faces a 40 per cent shortfall, while higher than anticipated food aid needs during the six-month humanitarian response period will add on at least a further $7 million. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) now aims to provide food assistance to 285,000 people in the hardest-hits departments over a three-month period. A second phase will aid 180,000 over the subsequent three months.

As for El Salvador, only 30 per cent of requirements under an original $7.9 million appeal have been met to date – and higher-than-expected needs prompted the country team today to increase funding requirements by a further $5.8 million.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has dramatically expanded its outreach during the recovery phase, and the WFP and UN International Labour Organization (ILO) have also joined the appeal.