Argentina

Argentina: Floods DREF Bulletin No. MDRAR002

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Situation Report
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Originally published

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The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in 185 countries.

In Brief

This DREF Bulletin is being issued based on the situation described below reflecting the information available at this time. CHF 178,400 (USD 146,711 or EUR 110,123) was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 7 April 2007 to respond to the most urgent needs of the affected population.

- This operation is expected to be implemented over 3 months, and will be completed by 7 July, 2007;

- A Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 7 October, 2007). Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.

This operation is aligned with the International Federation's Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Background and current situation

Since February 2007 heavy rainfall and storms have caused severe flooding, affecting mainly the provinces of Entre Rios and Santa Fe, situated on the South Coast of Río Paraná. In the last week of March 500 mm of rain was registered, almost duplicating the normal average for the whole month of March. In addition, the annual swelling of the Parana river and of the Salado River, reaching between four to five metres in different coastal localities was exacerbated due to abundant rains in the south of Brazil surpassing Alert and Evacuation levels (five to seven metres). This phenomenon, combined with the strong rainfall has provoked internal draining canals to overflow, causing even greater damage.

Almost four million hectares and complete neighbourhoods were affected by the floods, several bridges are severely damaged and main roads are obstructed and inaccessible. The flooding has caused major losses in the harvest of soybean and alfalfa in the affected area. Several services such as gas and electricity were closed preventively and school classes were suspended in the cities of Santa Fe, Rosario and Gualeguay. A state of emergency has been declared in the province of Santa Fe.

Within the two coastal provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Rios 65 localities have been affected, of which 59 localities are based in the province of Santa Fe. Most of the people have been evacuated from the cities of Santa Fe, Rosario, Esperanza and Gualequay.

Although there is no official governmental information on the impact of the emergency at this moment, it is estimated that more then 80,000 people have been affected. Some 56,000 people have been evacuated from the flooded areas to more then 200 temporary shelters in different provinces.

The Government has established a Provincial Crisis Committee in the city of Santa Fe as well as Local Emergency Committees in order to improve coordination on local, provincial and national levels. At present, the main actions coordinated through this body are focused on evacuations, administrations of shelters, distribution of Humanitarian Aid, medical assistance in shelters (and monitoring the epidemiological situation) and re-establishment of basic services.

The Ministry of Social Development has sent 70 trucks and three Hercules flights carrying relief items to the affected areas. The Ministry of Health is focusing on the reinforcement of the sanitary control in the temporary shelters and the local Centres of Primary Health Attention (CAPS). Vaccination campaigns against Hepatitis A and tetanus and diseases like leptospirosis are being implemented. The Ministry of Health has sent more than 15 tons of powdered milk, 60,000 water-treatment tablets and 3,000 doses of vaccines, serums and medication to the affected areas.

To accompany the humanitarian aid sent to Santa Fe by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a special logistics team of the White Helmets "Cascos Blancos" commission was summoned by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In addition, another team of volunteers specialized in emergency shelter will travel to the province to provide psychosocial support to the affected population.

Social unrest has emerged as a result of the situation and some looting has taken place on provisions of humanitarian aid. As a result of this insecurity the Provincial Police and the Naval Prefecture have increased their controls and patrolling actions.

Although some families are returning to their homes since the rains have stopped and the situation is improving, around 25,000 families (some 125,000 people) still remain in temporary shelters. There are still places where the draining of rain water continues to be slow and the weather remains unstable. Authorities are insisting that in many locations the situation is still critical; they expect that the situation will stabilise within one month.

A special United Nations (UN) mission was carried out by representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to assess the needs in the affected areas. This assessment showed that although the emergency is of the same nature in both provinces, the impact has been different due to the magnitude of the event, the immediate antecedents, the previous vulnerability to the floods and different organizational systems. Although needs vary between both provinces the main common needs identified for communities to return home are:

1. Necessary products to assure the possibility to return home with good sanitary and personal conditions. Providing cleaning kits, personal hygiene kits and bed clothing kits.

2. Basic construction material to fix any damage.

3. Support to the evacuated families with psychosocial activities and recreation kits for children.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Argentina: Pablo Bruno, Executive Advisor for Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Response, Argentine Red Cross, email pbruno@cruzroja.org.ar, phone (54) (11) 4952-7200, fax (54) (11) 4952- 7715

In Peru: Giorgio Ferrario, Head of Lima Regional Delegation; email giorgio.ferrario@ifrc.org, phone (511) 221-8151, fax (511) 441- 3607

In Panama: Stephen McAndrew, Coordinator, Federation Pan American Disaster Response Unit, Panama; email stephen.mcandrew@ifrc.org, phone (507) 316-1001, fax (507) 316-1082

In Geneva: Olaug Bergseth, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department, Geneva; email olaug.bergseth@ifrc.org, phone (41 22) 730-4535, fax (41 22) 730-0395

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org