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UN prepares to assist Central Americans affected by tropical storm Agatha

UN prepares to assist Central Americans affected by tropical storm Agatha

The Pacaya volcano in Guatemala.
United Nations agencies are preparing to assist tens of thousands of people in the wake of tropical storm Agatha, which resulted in heavy flooding, landslides and other calamities in parts of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

All three countries have declared emergencies following the storm, which is reported to have caused 92 deaths in Guatemala – which received the largest amount of rainfall registered in over 60 years – and caused over 150,000 people to be evacuated.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that rains are continuing, especially in Guatemala, but the tropical storm has been downgraded to a low pressure system and is dissipating gradually.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has allocated an initial amount of $50,000 for assessments and for defining an early recovery strategy.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) is requesting $500,000 to provide initial assistance to some 10,000 people for 15 days. This is in addition to the relief and food items being sent by the Government to the affected areas.

The situation in Guatemala has been made worse by the ashes of the Pacaya volcano, which began erupting last Thursday in the south of the country.

In neighbouring Honduras, 14 deaths have been reported in the wake of the storm. The WFP office in that country has pledged to deliver more than 12,000 pounds of food aid. Ten people have reportedly died in El Salvador, where some 11,000 people were evacuated.

OCHA stands ready to support and has put a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team on standby. It has also provided a list of available emergency relief goods ready to be shipped from the UN warehouse in Brindisi, Italy.