Guatemala: Volcanic Eruption Emergency Appeal n° MDRGT013


This Emergency Appeal seeks a total of 2,036,967 Swiss francs to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Guatemalan Red Cross (GRC) to deliver humanitarian assistance to 6,000 people for 12 months, with a strong focus on health, livelihoods, disaster risk reduction and institutional capacity development. The planned response reflects the current situation and information available at this time of the evolving operation, and will be adjusted based on further developments and more detailed assessments. An EPoA is being prepared based on ongoing assessments and will be issued as soon as it is available.

The disaster and the Red Cross Red Crescent response to date

3 and 5 June 2018: Guatemala’s Fuego Volcano erupted.

6 June 2018: 256,877 Swiss francs allocated from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF to assist 3,000 people.

7 June 2018: IFRC Surge Capacity deployed – Regional Disaster Management Coordinator America and its head of the country cluster office for Central America to Guatemala, with additional surge support planned to arrive in the coming days. Formation of volcanic mudflow increases risks to already affected communities.

8 June 2018: The Government of Guatemala request for International assistance.

11 June 2018: IFRC issues Emergency Appeal for 2,036,967 Swiss francs for 6,000 people for 12 months.

The operational strategy

Context: The Fuego Volcano, the most active volcano in Guatemala, erupted on 3 June generating a column of ash, lava, and pyroclastic flows up to 10km from the crater. The eruption affected over 1.7 million people in Sacatepéquez, Escuintla, and Chimaltenango departments, where national authorities declared the highest level of alert. A that time the authorities issued and evacuation order and some villages could be safely emptied to three emergency shelters habilitated. On Tuesday 5 June a new explosion was reported in Fuego volcano and further descent of pyroclastic lava flow led to new evacuations, injured and casualties. A new lahar (volcanic mudflow) formed on 7 June which was descending through the valleys of Santa Teresa, Mineral, and Taniluya. At time of writing, official figures are reporting 109 casualties, 58 injured and some 197 people are still missing. Some 12,407 people have been evacuated and only 4,175 of the 12,407 evacuees have been relocated to 22 official and unofficial emergency collective centres, which include churches, schools, cultural and sports centres, and town halls in the departments of Escuintla, Sacatepéquez, Santa Rosa, Guatemala, and Suchitepéquez. Over 4,000 are living in emergency shelters. Urgent shelter, health, food, and water, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH) needs have been identified.

The Fuego Volcano continues to be active, and the flow of lahar is likely to continue in the coming days and could be aggravated by the ongoing and forecasted rainfalls, which increase the risk of mudslides and landslides1. Consequently, the affected, missing, and casualty figures are likely to increase.

Search and rescue operations are very difficult in some areas, especially in the Fuego Volcano’s foothills, due to the presence of lava and pyroclastic flow. Areas buried under ash and debris remain inaccessible, hindering attempts to accurately quantify the number of missing people. The general level of insecurity in the country should also be taken into consideration when planning operations.

Since the onset of the disaster, Guatemala Red Cross (GRC) responded through the deployment of its ambulances and emergency health teams from at least three departments to the affected areas. The National Society established at least 15 collection centres for food and non-food items including hygiene materials which are being distributed to families sheltered in evacuation centres.