Guatemala: Volcanic Eruption Situation Report No. 4 (as of 18 June 2018)

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 18 Jun 2018

Highlights

• The number of people in shelters has decreased, as they have returned to their homes. These homes remain at risk, as they are in near the base of the volcano. Others have been seeking refuge with family or friends.

• In the department of Escuintla, search efforts have been suspended in the communities of San Miguel Los Lotes and El Rodeo, as they are currently uninhabitable and remain high-risk areas. The current total of missing persons stands at 197, but this may increase.

• There is a high risk of food insecurity in communities whose livelihoods were affected by the eruption of the Volcán de Fuego, especially for unsheltered who remained in their homes or in makeshift shelters.

• Some 8,500 children are estimated to be unable to return to school, which may result in early dropout over the interruption to regular school programming.

1,714,387 People affected

12,823 People evacuated

56 People injured

111 People killed

17 Shelters

3,615 People sheltered

2,570 People still at risk

197 People missing

Situation Overview

Due to the rainy season, areas around the Volcán de Fuego volcano have experienced heavy rainfall, generating lahars with abundant volcanic material and blocks 30 to 40 meters wide and 2 to 3 meters high, with columns of steam in its path. The Pacaya and Santiaguito volcanoes have also increased their activity in recent days.

Access to the communities near the Volcán de Fuego is difficult, given the heavy rainfall and lahars, and several routes in Escuintla have been destroyed or temporarily closed (RN14, Km. 40 to 61 highway to Palín, Km. 95 RDESC-6, Km. 101, Km. 96).

The Departmental Coordinator of Escuintla (CODRED) to end search and rescue efforts in the communities of San Miguel Los Lotes and El Rodeo, as the area is currently uninhabitable and remains at high risk. The suspension of search and rescue has caused anguish to many people who are still searching for their relatives on their own, risking their lives in the process.

At present, the search for missing persons and restoration of family links is of crucial importance. The National Forensic Sciences Institute (INACIF) is playing a key role, mainly in the identification of deceased persons or their remains. This procedure is done by comparing the information available on persons through antemortem records that relatives and close persons provide in interviews collected by INACIF and genetic profiles of relatives with the information available from the bodies and remains that have been collected and analysed. Family members should be included in the State's decision-making process and be involved in the search process if they have information that would facilitate the search.

Following assessments and field visits, a high risk of food insecurity was identified in communities whose livelihoods were affected by the eruption of the volcano. Specifically, families who did not seek refuge in official shelters, who remain in their homes or who are sheltered by themselves, as they do not receive any constant assistance in food and other basic necessities. One of the main problems identified is that some communities are isolated or have very limited access due to infrastructure damage caused by lahars. This has a direct impact on families’ access to food and work opportunities - daily work at sugar mills has been lost, as there is no transport to transfer them or, in some cases, the cost of transport has even increased.

Shelter care is being maintained, with a total of 17 official shelters. The department of Escuintla has the highest number of people sheltered. Many have returned home to high-risk areas or have been seeking support from family and/or friends, leading to a decreased shelter population. The main priorities identified by the lead agency of the shelter sectorial working group are close coordination with the Secretariat of Social Work of the First Lady of Guatemala (SOSEP) to avoid duplication of actions and maintaining a direct line of communication to optimize support for humanitarian actors.

On Friday, 15 June, Retalhuleu and Quetzaltenango CODREDs declared a departmental yellow alert for the 2018 rainy season as a preventive measure, as the seasonal rainfall could lead to an increase in the river flows and a downhill of lahars in the Santiaguito volcano

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
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