A strong cold front has been affecting the highlands of the southern Peruvian departments of Arequipa, Puno, Moquegua, Tacna and Cuzco over the last month with temperatures reaching minus 20 degrees Celsius.
More than 40,000 cases of acute respiratory infection have been registered and more than a hundred children under five years of age have died of pneumonia. The main victims of the cold climate are children, pregnant women, of whom 25 have died over the past month, and old people. Farm animals have also been much affected and the fact that agriculture is suffering as a result of the severe weather is a cause of major concern since farming represents the only source of income for these indigenous families.
In addition to the cold front, during recent days intense winds due to a change in atmospheric pressure have worsened the situation in the region, leaving dozens of families homeless, hundreds of people affected, several schools damaged and hundreds of animals dead.
The health authorities are implementing a campaign, disseminating prevention messages on how to detect the first symptoms of illnesses resulting from the cold and how to care for those who are sick.
Red Cross/Red Crescent Action
The Peruvian Red Cross (PRC) has been monitoring the cold wave since the outset. The National Service of Meteorology and Hydrology (SENAMHI) has announced that the cold front will continue until mid
September, reaching the lowest temperatures in August. As a result, the PRC launched a campaign which will run for one month, bringing assistance to the communities in the Andes.
The slogan adopted by the PRC for the fundraising campaign is "Let's keep a brother from the South warm", in where the population is encouraged to donate warm clothes, blankets, boots, medicines, food, shovels to remove snow and building materials. The campaign does not seek only to provide material support, but also moral support to the vulnerable population. For the dissemination of the campaign, the National Society enjoys the cooperation of two important Peruvian media: the newspaper Peru 21 (www.peru21.com) and the television network Frecuencia Latina.
The Peruvian Red Cross works in coordination with governmental institutions, particularly the Ministry of Health, in order to provide assistance in regions which are inaccessible as a result of a lack of infrastructure. No complete assessment of damage and needs has yet been carried out as many communities have been cut off by snow and ice at 4,000 metres above sea-level. The PRC has sent an evaluation team and will have an accurate list of needs by the coming week. Representatives of the National Society expect that the main problem to be solved will be the transportation of goods, and it is possible that Federation support may be required.
The collection of goods began today, 25 July, in six different areas of the capital city, Lima, but will concentrate on a Red Cross warehouse located in the district of Surco, from where the aid will be forwarded to the provinces.
Last year a similar situation affected the south of Peru. At that time the Red Cross contributed 160 tonnes of aid; this year, it is hoped to collect at least twice this quantity of relief goods to help those in need.
For further details please contact
- The Peruvian National Society in Lima; Phone (511) 265-8783; Fax (511) 470-0599; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Federation Regional Delegation in Lima; Phone (511) 221 8333; Fax (511) 441 3607; e-mail; email@example.com
- Olaug Bergseth, Regional Officer, Phone (41) 22 730 4535; Fax (41) 22 733 0395; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
For support to or for further information concerning Federation operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation website at http://www.ifrc.org
For longer-term programmes, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal.