PANAMA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) together with the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua have distributed urgently needed food rations to more than 70,000 people severely affected by Tropical Depression 12E, but continuing bad weather and damage to roads and infrastructure are hampering efforts to reach isolated communities.
“Countless communities have been cut off, without any assistance, for the past seven days,” said Gemmo Lodesani, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are particularly concerned about the most vulnerable, especially women and children, who suddenly find themselves with nothing to eat”.
Tropical Depression 12E has left more than 80 people dead and more than 300,000 affected in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Torrential rains and ensuing landslides have caused extensive damage to roads and bridges.
In Guatemala, WFP and government agencies have already reached more than 57,000 people in 11 departments –Escuintla, Chimaltenango, Santa Rosa, Jutiapa, Retalhuleu, Sololá, Izabal, Petén, Chiquimula, Quetzaltenango and El Quiché - with some 280 metric tons of food. Deteriorating weather conditions and poor visibility have momentarily prevented the airlift of ready-to-eat High Energy Biscuits to isolated communities but the operation is expected to resume as soon as the weather improves.
In coordination with the government of El Salvador, WFP has provided High Energy Biscuits to over 7,500 people – a total of 10 metric tons – who are currently in shelters in 27 communities. In Honduras more than 5,000 people have been assisted with 55 metric tons of food rations in close collaboration with local authorities whereas in Nicaragua, WFP in close cooperation with SINAPRED is prepositioning food in various areas of the country, including the indigenous areas of Rio Coco and Bocay.
The regional response involves WFP’s Central American Humanitarian Response Centre in El Salvador . They were responsible for transporting 10 metric tons of High Energy Biscuits to Guatemala over the weekend and providing assistance with food distributions in El SalvadorThe Centre stocks primarily High Energy Biscuits which are available for quick regional deployments and complement the stocks of non-food items stored at the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) base in Panama.