San José, Costa Rica – These funds will provide food, hygiene kits, cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment for people affected by the hurricanes. IOM will continue to increase its support in coming days.
“Today, our attention is directed towards Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and other affected countries, but our attention cannot be fleeting. As reconstruction and recovery will take years, assistance needs to be sustainable and enduring,” said Michele Klein-Solomon, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America, and the Caribbean.
“Storms Eta and Iota have suddenly transformed the lives of millions of people in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. This natural disaster will have long-term consequences, which will probably be reflected in the migration situation in the region,” warned IOM’s Klein-Solomon.
According to a report by IOM Guatemala, more than 17,300 people are housed in 132 shelters that were prepared for the emergency in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Huehuetenango, Quiché, Jalapa, Petén, Izabal, Zacapa and Chiquimula.
“The post-hurricane scenario in the region presents us with the need to articulate comprehensive responses that allow, first, to save and protect the lives of people, and then, to offer sustainable development alternatives,” explained Jorge Peraza, IOM Chief of Mission for El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
“We know that climate conditions and the effects of situations such as those that occurred in Northern Central America and Nicaragua during these previous weeks are compounding drivers of forced displacement. Attention aimed at recovering people’s livelihoods and reducing existing vulnerabilities is imperative,” IOM’s Peraza added.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, sanitary conditions of shelters are concerns as overcrowding may compromise personal protection against the disease. In Guatemala, IOM has coordinated the implementation of the Integrated Shelter Registration System (SIRA), together with authorities of Puerto Barrios, Guatemala’s main Caribbean port, to collect information on those of the affected population currently in shelters in the surrounding department of Izabal.
In Honduras, UNOCHA reports indicate that the total number of people sheltered in that country exceeds 75,000. There, IOM is developing individual reports on the results of Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) surveys conducted across 31 shelter sites in San Pedro Sula. IOM Honduras analyzes data collected in these surveys to prioritize and provide support.
In Bilwi, Nicaragua, also on the Caribbean coast, IOM is coordinating with the Nidia White Women’s Movement Organization to reach mainly women and children who are sheltered due to evacuations. Using funds from the Regional Conference for Migration, IOM has sent humanitarian assistance kits to Bilwi. Those kits include food, medicine, and supplies for the protection and prevention of COVID-19.
Through the United Nations Interagency Group UNETE, and in coordination with Nicaragua’s Government, IOM is likewise coordinating assistance actions focused on protecting displaced populations across the country.
In southern Mexico, where Civil Protection reported almost 297,000 people affected and some 30 deaths, IOM has provided support to two shelters for migrants in Chiapas state by distributing drinking water and repairing roofs. IOM is also coordinating with the private sector representatives, OCHA, and other UN agencies to determine ways to further support areas affected by the heavy rains.