UN sends more food to hurricane victims in Central America
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed a second consignment of aid to hungry residents in northern Nicaragua, where Hurricane Felix affected as many as 60,000 people with high winds that destroyed or damaged homes and commercial buildings.
But despite the losses and hardship, humanitarian officials are relieved that Felix did not cause more damage during its trajectory through Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.
“Hurricane Felix had the potential to create enormous devastation and suffering for millions of people,” WFP Deputy Director Gordana Jerger said. “We are extremely fortunate. However, there is still a lot of urgent work to be done in helping those who were affected and we will need immediate financial assistance from our donors who have proven repeatedly that they are prepared to help.”
An emergency WFP airlift of 4.5 metric tonnes of beans, rice, oil, fortified corn-soya blended food and cooking oil has arrived in the Nicaraguan coastal town of Bilwi (formerly Puerto Cabezas), which bore some of the worst of Hurricane Felix’s landfall on Tuesday.
The food is enough to feed almost 900 people for 10 days and follows the distribution on Tuesday of 70 tonnes in Bilwi and Waspam, just hours after Felix struck. Road transport has been halted after a key bridge was washed away by the rain-swollen river.
“We are only able to deliver assistance to the affected areas by air, sea or river,” WFP Country Director William Hart said.
In Honduras, WFP staff in the capital city Tegucigalpa have distributed food to thousands of people who had gathered in shelters. Meanwhile, in El Salvador, WFP is still assessing Felix’s impact, especially in geographically vulnerable areas.
“Because WFP has food stocks for its long-term projects in the area, we were able to respond with unusual speed,” Ms. Jerger said. “However, not only will these stocks have to be replenished, we will need international support for our operation in Nicaragua where people require assistance, not just in the short term, but also to rebuild their lives and homes in the coming months.”