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Wednesday, February 22, 2017
CAFOD pledges funds to tropical storm survivors
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¬†CAFOD has pledged an initial £100,000 to its partners in Central America, who are battling to provide emergency supplies to thousands of people hit by Tropical Storm Stan. Tropical Storm Stan struck southern Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala last Monday and continues to wreak havoc. Torrential rain and subsequent flooding has submerged the city San Salvador while mudslides have engulfed entire villages across the region. The death toll stands at over 1,000 and rising. An estimated 200,000 people are living in emergency shelters. The Catholic aid agency says the devastation in Guatemala and El Salvador is greater in magnitude as that created by Hurricane Mitch in 2001. They say an immediate international response is vital. This is the second natural disaster to hit El Salvador in a matter of days as the country was already struggling to support survivors following the eruption of the Ilamatepec volcano in El Salvador. CAFOD's Central America expert Sarah Smith-Pearse in El Salvador said: "The true scale of this disaster is becoming ever clearer as more areas are being reached by rescuers. It's vital the international community realises the dimension of this crisis and acts quickly. Countries like El Salvador and Guatemala do not have the infrastructure, the money or resources in place to deal with such a large-scale disaster. "As always it is the poorest of the poor who are suffering the most, as their mud and wattle houses cannot withstand such an onslaught of rain. Thousands have lost their livestock and crops and their future livelihoods have been washed away. The people of El Salvador and Guatemala are working together to provide food and offering shelter to those who have lost their homes but they need much more help now if they are to cope immediately and also rebuild their futures." CAFOD partners are at the forefront of an emergency response to provide food, clean water, medicine and shelter to some of the hundreds of thousands of people who have been evacuated and are living in temporary shelters. People are already developing hypothermia and severe skin problems due to exposure to the rain. There is also a threat of waterborne diseases, such as dengue fever, rapidly spreading throughout communities. Both the Salvadorian and Guatemalan parliaments have declared a state of national calamity. The crisis is expected to escalate with reports of more heavy downpours to come and increased seismic activity around the volcano that erupted only last week. Survivor Jesus Reyes Fuentes from the Romero community village in El Salvador said: "I think that now it's worse than Hurricane Mitch. The crops, the chickens, the ducks have all been lost and destroyed. During Mitch at least some areas of maize weren't flooded but now everywhere is flooded." CAFOD partner the Jesuit Development Service (JDS) in El Salvador said: "We are living in a total disaster. The country is paralysed. All schools are shut. Fishing suspended and agricultural work halted. Social anguish is felt in all corners of the country." CAFOD partner Caritas El Salvador is part of the emergency response team. They say that the roads are becoming blocked with people and livestock as they try to escape their villages and move to higher, safer ground. Their situation is perilous as flooding and mudslides affect almost every part of the country.
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