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Peru: UN seeks $37 million to assist earthquake victims

Peru: UN seeks $37 million to assist earthquake victims

Distributing food aid in Peru
The United Nations and its humanitarian partners today appealed for $37 million to provide more than 200,000 people with food, water, medical assistance, tents and blankets for a period of six months following the deadly earthquake that struck Peru nearly two weeks ago.

The powerful quake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and struck 161 kilometres south of the capital, Lima, has resulted in the death of over 500 people and injured more than 1,000 others, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In addition, preliminary assessments indicate that over 37,000 houses and four hospitals were destroyed, while 16 hospitals were damaged.

An allocation of $9.6 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) had already been approved for immediate assistance in shelter and camp management, food supply, water and sanitation, health, education, and emergency employment.

The flash appeal launched today is based on the latest assessments from UN inter-agency missions deployed to the affected areas and reports from official sources, which indicated that more than 200,000 people required life-saving assistance and 56,000 families were homeless.

The UN agencies that have been providing assistance in the wake of the tragedy include the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which estimates that 150,000 children have been directly affected by the quake. Of the over 500 reported dead so far, 96 had been under 18, the agency said.

Among UNICEF’s concerns were damage to the water and sanitation facilities and the resulting lack of latrines and hygiene. It has already distributed 50,000 oral rehydration salts sachets and 26,000 flyers with information on safe hygiene practices.

While the Ministry of Education reported that some 166 schools had been damaged or completely destroyed, UNICEF believes the final number will be closer to 450.

Other concerns include the vulnerability of homeless children living in camps and shelters to sexual exploitation, and the fact that, as reported by UNICEF's representative in Peru, many children are already showing signs of psychological stress and emotional trauma, exhibited in sleeplessness, aggressiveness and other behaviours.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it will be providing assistance to 80,000 people, including by helping to repair agricultural infrastructure. WFP assistance will focus on the rural communities touched by the quake. The agency began distributing food to some 25,000 victims within just 15 hours of the quake.