14 July 2004 With Nicaragua now battered by four weeks of heavy rains which provoked landslides and flooding, United Nations agencies are rushing supplies to the affected areas while seeking nearly $1 million to provide more relief to 5,700 people in the Central American country.
"For the people who have lost their friends and family this is a tragedy and they require immediate international support," Stephanie Bunker of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told the UN News Service.
The Government estimates that more than 18,000 people have been affected, 25 have died, and over 2,000 acres of crops have been damaged. As Nicaraguans scramble to relocate - many to schools - and cope with the widespread damage caused by the natural disaster, UN agencies are mobilizing a response.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has allocated $3,000 for medical brigades, the establishment of a radio system, and other equipment. The agency has also provided technical assistance to install an Emergency Operation Centre and to support local health centres in Río Blanco and Matiguas.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has set aside $6,000 for psychosocial rehabilitation in accessible shelters. Some 200 people have already benefited from the service.
The World Food Programme (WFP), which will provide $20,000 for an evaluation mission to assess nutritional needs, is mobilizing tons of food supplies, including corn, beans, milk and oil, along with kettles and other cookware.
A recent WFP assessment found that 2,300 people located in 16 temporary shelters need tents, water tanks, mattresses and blankets, according to agency spokesman Simon Pluess. He told the press in Geneva on Tuesday that Nicaragua also urgently requires a coordinated food distribution system.
The appeal announced today aims to raise funds for health care, agricultural rehabilitation, food and education for a three-month period.