Guatemala: UN launches flash appeal following deadly floods, mudslides

Director Ed Tsui briefs journalists

10 October 2005 – The United Nations was today launching a $22-million flash appeal for Guatemala where severe flooding and mudslides caused by hurricane Stan have killed hundreds of people and inflicted estimated damage of more than $400 million to the livestock, coffee and banana industries.

The UN, in conjunction with the Government, has identified priorities for international emergency relief assistance, including water, sanitation and hygiene, food, shelter and household items, health services, communication and access to services.

“The availability of food will be curtailed in the short-term,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement, noting that there had been more than 900 landslides and entire villages had been swept away.

Over the weekend, the UN Resident Coordinator activated the Disaster Management Team (DMT) to provide initial food and health aid, while a seven-member UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has been deployed to the Central American country.

Among material assistance provided by UN agencies are large quantities of medical supplies including re-hydration salts and antibiotics, a mobile water treatment plant, and food aid. Technical expertise has been provided in the areas of health, nutrition, water and sanitation, planning, social protection and education.

UN organizations mobilizing assistance include the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO), UN Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UN Volunteers (UNV).

Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlström will be travelling to Guatemala shortly in order to help the relief efforts.

Among the issues she will address are problems accessing the devastated area. The director of OCHA’s New York Office, Ed Tsui, told a news briefing in New York today some people will not allow the army in due to its past activities in the now-ended civil war.

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