Press release published by UNICEF in Panama on 8 February 2021
The devastating impacts of hurricanes Eta and Iota in Central America, on 4 and 17 November 2020 respectively, have left nearly 9.3 million people affected, including an estimated 3.5 million children. At the onset of the emergency thousands of families were displaced into shelters with limited access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services, and faced heightened protection and public health risks. UNICEF, in partnership with Governments and other humanitarian partners, continues to respond to the emergency and to carry out needs assessments to update severe impact of the hurricanes, particularly in hard-to-access areas.
The valuable contribution of €945,000 by the European Commission Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) will enable UNICEF to reach approximately 37,000 vulnerable people affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala.
In Nicaragua, UNICEF will prioritize continuity of lifesaving health care for children and pregnant and lactating women, as well as provision of safe WASH and child protection services. Additionally, in Honduras UNICEF will provide assistance to re-establish WASH and child protection services to support affected population cope with the immediate consequences of Eta and Iota, safeguarding their most relevant needs and rights. Finally, in Guatemala UNICEF will support targeted populations access safe water through the restoration of water systems and ensure equitable access to decent sanitation and hygiene conditions to maintain health conditions.
UNICEF is urgently appealing for US$42.6 million to meet the most critical humanitarian needs of over 646,000 people, including 327,000 children, hit repeatedly by deadly floods and landslides in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize. Funding gaps, however, threaten to leave thousands of children without access to humanitarian response. UNICEF calls upon the international donor community to scale-up its support to ensure vulnerable children affected by hurricanes Eta and Iota are protected and have access to water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, health and education services.
UNICEF is expecting relief actions to continue over a prolonged period of time given the extent of damages in houses and basic services and considering that in parts of the affected countries floodwaters may last another six months. Collective efforts are needed to prevent hurricanes Eta and Iota from becoming a forgotten emergency crisis and to ensure that the needs of the most affected population are addressed.