EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HONDURAS, NICARAGUA: HURRICANES, FLOODS AND MUDSLIDES 100'S KILLED; 100'S OF THOUSANDS HOMELESS
STORM DEATH TOLL RISES IN CENTRAL AMERICA PLEAS FOR HUMANITARIAN AID AS MORE THAN 100 PEOPLE ARE KILLED IN FLOODING AND LANDSLIDES PROVOKED BY DAYS OF HEAVY RAIN
At least 105 people have been killed in flooding and landslides provoked by 10 days of heavy rains in Central America, officials have said. More than a million people have been affected in the region, prompting officials to ask for humanitarian aid and urge those unaffected to show solidarity. Much of the aid is expected to go to Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and to the hardest-hit country, El Salvador.
Almost 152cm of rain have accumulated in the past 10 days. The cumulative record of Hurricane Mitch, which devastated the region in 1998, killing 11,000 people, was 86cm, said German Rosa Chavez, the Salvadoran natural resources minister, on Friday.
Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes urged the international community to send humanitarian aid, saying in a televised message to the nation on Wednesday: "El Salvador is going through one of the most dramatic disasters in its history".
Guatemala has reported 38 deaths, El Salvador, 34, Honduras, 15, Nicaragua 13 and Costa Rica, five. [...]
Everton Fox, Al Jazeera's meteorologist, said "The arrival of three tropical systems in barely a week has brought flashfloods and mudslides into much of Central America. Hurricane Jova, Tropical Depression 12 and most recently, the remnants of Tropical Depression Irwin, have all caused widespread devastation to the region." The United Nations has classified Central America as one of the parts of the world most affected by climate change.
DISASTER PREVENTION AND EMERGENCY RELIEF WORK
As Rights Action has done many times over the past 16 years, particularly during the massive Hurricanes Stan (2005) and Mitch (1998), we channel relief funds to community based organizations in the regions most affected by the floods and mudslides. The main aim of our response work is to strengthen community based organizations that already exist in the affected regions, that can best diminish the devastating impacts of disasters at the local level.
GEOGRAPHY, POVERTY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Due to its geographical location, Central America and the Caribbean are regularly hit by heavy rains, initiating both in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.
Impoverished, often indigenous rural communities and urban barrios are logically and sadly the most vulnerable to "disasters": earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and mudslides. The death and destruction caused is much greater given the pre-existing vulnerability of impoverished communities.
The geographic reality of Central America and the pre-existing conditions of poverty and vulnerability are worsened further by the increasing phenomena of climate change - the power and intensity of rains are increasing.
Based on years of disaster relief work, Rights Action concludes that, in many ways, community based organizations (already doing community based development, human rights and environmental protection work) are in the best position to do local emergency relief work.
Emergency-disaster relief assistance should be - as much as possible - delivered by local groups, and should be tied to a long term vision for and projects to advance sustainable, integral, locally controlled development.
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