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Honduras: UN agencies rush to help as floods ravage countryside

Honduras: UN agencies rush to help as floods ravage countryside

United Nations humanitarian agencies have started mobilizing and distributing aid in Honduras, where floods brought on by a tropical depression have forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and destroyed vast areas of cropland.

A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has been deployed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to the region and UN agencies have begun allocating more than $300,000 to help with relief efforts, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters today.

Authorities estimate that at least 270,000 Hondurans need some form of assistance as a result of the heavy rainfall and flooding that followed the tropical depression’s arrival on 16 October.

The hardest-hit areas include Copán, Ocotepeque, Cortés, Atlantida and Yoro departments across the north of the country, but the central and western regions of Honduras were also affected.

The floods and subsequent landslides have destroyed nearly 500 homes and submerged or damaged 10,000 others, while about 50 per cent of roads in the affected region are reported to have been damaged or destroyed. An estimated 100,000 hectares of crops have been lost.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has already distributed nearly 60 tons of food to some 5,500 families, but says it will need an extra 2,500 tons before the crisis has passed.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that it has started distributing pre-positioned supplies and is also planning the rehabilitation of water systems and school infrastructure that were damaged.

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) has mobilized medical teams and bought medicines to help with relief efforts, and is working closely with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to provide assistance, especially on improving water and sanitation.

Honduras is one of several Central American countries struck by flooding and landslides as the region and the neighbouring Caribbean endures a battering this season from tropical storms and depressions.