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Monday, October 24, 2016
Appeal to help hurricane-hit communities in Guatemala
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¬†CAFOD partner Caritas Guatemala has appealed for international help in reaching out to the tens of thousands of families still reeling from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Stan more than one month ago. Hurricane Stan smashed into the coast in early October bringing with it heavy rains that provoked flash flooding and mudslides in much of the southern coast and western highlands of Guatemala. The result was a heavy loss of life, population displacement, and widespread infrastructure and crop damage. The appeal is to help meet the food, medicine, water, and shelter needs of 27,435 families in a third of the country. The hardest hit dioceses are Escuintla, Santa Rosa, Suchitepťquez, Jalapa, San Marcos, SololŠ, and Quetaltenango. Officials still do not have a clear picture of the scale of devastation as many areas are inaccessible. Numerous communities have not yet received assistance. The lack of clean drinking water is of great concern, as is the rise in malaria, and gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses. At the outset, Caritas Guatemala has worked to set up temporary shelters for hurricane victims and to provide food, clothing, and water. Under the new appeal, Caritas Guatemala will continue providing essential food and non-food items to families in the seven dioceses for a period of two to three months, depending on the specific needs. CAFOD has so far pledged a total of £200,000 to a number of partners for emergency relief for Guatemala and El Salvador. In a gesture of solidarity Islamic Relief donated £100,000 of this. The agency's Central American expert Sarah Smith-Pearse in Guatemala said: "I've met families whose villages have been swallowed by mud and de ris. I have seen sugar cane, maize and bananas ready for harvest rotting under feet of stagnant water, and I've spoken to both adults and children alike who remain traumatised by the deadly mudslides and flooding that has scarred the landscape and devastated their lives and livelihoods." She said: "What has been inspiring is the generosity and unity of the Guatemalan people, who have responded to calls for help. It has been a case of the poor helping the poor but they can't keep up this enormous effort alone. It is now time for the international community to support them in this tragedy."
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