Argentina + 9 more

ODM-WFP emergency situation report on Latin America & the Caribbean 29 May 2002


1. Caribbean:

Jamaica and Haiti were affected by a tropical storm during the week of 20 May, causing major flooding and landslides.

Jamaican police reported that 6 people were drowned or buried in landslides as a consequence of floods. The Jamaican Office of Disaster Preparedness reports that 200 families were evacuated and are living in temporary shelters (police stations and churches) in Clarendon (central Jamaica).

In Haiti, there are reports of 20 people drowned and dozens more missing. Overflowing rivers swept away houses in the South and Grande Anse districts.

2. Central America:

Heavy rains have hit the Central American region, causing major floods in urban and rural areas. Meteorologists indicate that due to the formation of El Niño, extended dry periods combined with periods of copious and extended rains should be expected during this period of the year.

In Honduras, torrential rains have affected most areas of the country. Thousands of people were isolated in the eastern region of the country following the washing away of bridges. In Tegucigalpa, the Honduran Red Cross evacuated 300 people.

In Nicaragua, the government declared on 28 May a yellow alert due to floods, which are currently affecting the pacific coast region and particularly in the area of Managua. The Government's Vice-President met on 29 May with donor representatives and international organizations - including WFP - and informed that the rains have affected about 7000 families. He also informed that the San Cristobal volcano has become active. Representatives from Spain, Japan, USAID, UNDP, PAHO/WHO, UNFPA and UNCEF offered assistance during the meeting. WFP has provided 5.7 MT of food to persons in shelters and is assessing the need for further assistance.

In Panama, reports indicate that four persons have died and hundreds of others have been seriously affected. Landslides and major flooding were the result of heavy rains.

3. Guatemala

Reporting Period: 05/18 to 05/24/2002

a) Significant Events:

Due to intensive rains, there are reports that serious infrastructure could be damaged. During the weekend of 25 May, several bridges were damaged in the cities of Villa Canales, San Cristobal and Mixco.

EMOP 10174: During the reporting period, an increase in acute malnutrition has been reported in Camotan (Province of Chiquimula). WFP is now present in the area with the recently approved EMOP.

b) Logistics:

The procurement process has begun for 2,144 MT of maize for the EMOP. Shipments consistent of 32 MT of oil from WFP friends USA, 403 MT of CSB from Norway and 70 MT of CSB from WFP's emergency funds (IRA) are expected to arrive in Guatemala before 15 June.

4. Colombia

Reporting Period: 05/21 to 05/28/2002

a) Significant Events:

Alvaro Uribe Velez was elected President of Colombia on 26 May despite isolated reports of violence.

On the week of 20 May at least eight people were killed including two children, as a consequence of violence in Medellin. WFP has a sub-office and projects in this city. No WFP staff or beneficiaries were affected.

Vehicles of a WFP supplier carrying food commodities for the school-feeding programme in the north of the country have stopped. WFP food was not able to be delivered on time in five provinces because the bridge connecting Antioquia with the Atlantic Coast region was blown up. A total of 115,300 snacks for the school feeding programmes will be delivered until the bridge is repaired.

Food delivery to the Choco province has been called off because there have been threats of armed roadblocks. Deliveries were supposed to resume on the week of 27 May.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights prepared a Report following the Observation Mission on the Humanitarian Crisis that took place during the beginning of May in the municipality of Bojaya, where 118 people died due to clashes between armed groups.

b) Security:

Security clearances continued to be issued to staff, except during the election period, which went from 24-27 May.

c) Implementation:

FFW commodities will be delivered as planned: 16.0 MT to the Bogota, Turbo, Medellin and Anori municipalities. In the school-feeding component, 24 MT of fortified biscuits and natural fruit juices were to be delivered during the week of 27 May.

5. Other ODM countries

  • In Chile, government officials have reported that 5 people died and approximately 4,500 others were left homeless after rains overflowed riverbanks. The National Emergency Office is evaluating damages.
  • In Mexico, increased tremors coming from the Volcano Colima have kept residents and authorities in state of alert for a possible eruption. The volcano continues to throw rocks, ash and jets of lava causing the evacuation of over 300 people.

    Also, Tropical Storm Alma in the eastern pacific picked up strength on 27 May off the coast of Mexico as it moved out to sea where it is now a hurricane. The storm's track would keep it far out in the Pacific away from Mexican coasts.

  • In Argentina, on 28 May a 6.0 Richter-scale earthquake took place in the province of Catamarca, There are yet no reports of victims nor damages. On the other hand, a recent study of Argentina concludes that 58% of all children - some 5.7 million - live in poverty and 27.7% of them - some 2.7 million - are so poor they are underfed. Officials said that in the province of Tucuman, 'grade one' malnutrition with a 25% weight deficit is now common among children under two.

Country Offices and Regional Bureau are monitoring these developments.