Help for volcano victims in Guatemala

LWF Hub team leader Jésus Rodriguez (center) coordinates the aid work in Guatemala. Photo: LWF
LWF Hub team leader Jésus Rodriguez (center) coordinates the aid work in Guatemala. Photo: LWF

LWF ensures coordination of emergency response

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is ensuring that agencies mount a coordinated response to the emergency caused by volcanic eruptions in Guatemala at the beginning of June. Food, hygiene kits and psychosocial support will be provided to about 11,000 people who have been evacuated after the disaster in the most affected communities of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez.

The Fuego volcano, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, is located 44 km from Guatemala City. On 3 June, an eruption proved especially deadly when a volcanic mudflow (known as “lahar”) suddenly changed direction and buried four villages in Escuintla. Further eruptions containing ash, lava and pyroclastic flows on the following days and an evacuation alert by the authorities caused panic among the population living close to the volcano, especially as vital roads had been blocked by volcanic material.

To date, 109 people have been found dead and hundreds injured. Almost 200 people are still unaccounted for. More than 12,000 people had to be evacuated. It is estimated 1.7 million have been affected by the emergency. As eruptions have stopped, Guatemala’s disaster relief agency has started search and rescue missions.

People now need food and hygiene kits most urgently. There also is a need for psychosocial support, differentiated for adults, children and also the staff managing the shelters.
Jésus Rodriguez, LWF coordinator of the Central American emergency hub.

“People now need food and hygiene kits most urgently,” says Jésus Rodriguez, coordinator of the LWF Latin America and Caribbean emergency hub, adding that food parcels, hygiene kits and psychosocial support would be provided to people who have been evacuated after the disaster.

As houses and fields have been covered in ash or are even buried completely under lava and mud slides, people will need support for a longer period of time, he says. “There also is a need for psychosocial support, differentiated for adults, children and also the staff managing the shelters,” Rodriguez adds. The team aims to provide support for a year in the affected communities close to the volcano.

In Guatemala, 6 major agencies have come together (LWF, Church of Sweden, Bread for the World, Christian Aid, NCA and ICCO) in the ‘Jotay’ joint program, intended to make the best use of resources and ensure greatest possible impact. A local partner CEDEPCA is responsible for implementation on the ground. The LWF emergency hub will facilitate the response to ensure maximum coordination.

 

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