Latin America & the Caribbean: Weekly Situation Update (22-29 July 2019) - As of 29 July 2019

REGIONAL: VENEZUELAN MIGRANTS & REFUGEES

KEY FIGURES

66% OF VENEZUELANS ABROAD SURVEYED ARE UNEMPLOYED OR WORKING INFORMALLY

45% OF VENEZUELANS STRANDED IN TACNA, PERU, ARE ONLY ABLE TO EAT ONCE OR TWICE A DAY

16.5K VENEZUELANS REGISTERED FOR NEW REGISTRATION CARD IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

UNHCR recently published their findings of a survey based on 7,800 interviews across Latin America and the Caribbean carried out between January and June 2019, where Venezuelans were asked about their experiences.

Half of the families interviewed said they faced risks specific to their age, gender, health or other needs

Many interviewees noted they often faced risks due to drastic coping behavior including begging, child labor or even survival sex.

Despite various governments issuing temporary permits to Venezuelans, 34 per cent of those interviewed said they lacked regular documentation. Some 66 per cent said they were unemployed or working informally, with 43 per cent saying they are having a hard time finding accommodations due to irregular migratory status, lack of funds and discrimination.

ECUADOR President Lenin Moreno announced on 25 July that Ecuador will provide two new types of visas for Venezuelan migrants, a measure set to begin within the next 30 days and last until March 2020.

The first is an exceptional temporary residence visa for Venezuelans already in Ecuador who have a clean police record. The second is a humanitarian visa for entry into Ecuador.

Moreno confirmed that Ecuador will recognize passports and other identity documents that have been expired for up to five years.

PERU

UNHCR in Peru carried out a rapid protection needs assessment in Tacna, with interviews and surveys revealing that at least 68 per cent of Venezuelans in Tacna have already turned to humanitarian assistance to respond to basic needs.

Forty-five per cent of interviewees are only able to eat once or twice a day. Forty-four per cent have required some form of medical attention, with 80 per cent of this total able to access care. Of those who received medical attention, 92 per cent availed themselves of aid provided by IFRC.

Some 80 per cent of people waiting for Chile to process their requests seek to enter Chile to reunite with family.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

On 26 July, National Security authorities announced that Venezuelan migrants will begin receiving registration cards that will allow them to work in Trinidad and Tobago for a year. Some 16,500 Venezuelans, including 2,300 children, registered for the program between 31 May and 14 June, with the Government issuing around 13,000 cards.

Trinidad and Tobago, who does not currently have a formal refugee law, expects to use data from the registration program to assess the future of a national legal framework for refugees.

CENTRAL AMERICA: MIGRANTS & REFUGEES

KEY FIGURES

37% OF NICARAGUANS GRANTED ASYLUM IN COSTA RICA HAVE OBTAINED WORK PERMITS

67.2% OF FORCIBLY DISPLACED SALVADORANS THREATNED WITH DEATH IN 2018

58.6% OF FORCIBLY DISPLACED HONDURANS THREATNED WITH DEATH IN 2018

NICARAGUA

According to the International Network of Human Rights (RIDH), Nicaraguans are facing difficulties in obtaining asylum in Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama.

RIDH’s most recent report on the status of Nicaraguans notes that they have difficulties obtaining work permits and accessing health, education, lodging, legal status and security.

In Honduras, authorities face challenges in identifying people who cross the border for political reasons, as many stay near the border, where the armed presence of criminal gangs is high.

In Panama, RIDH reports that the migratory procedures are among the longest in the region, lasting as long as three years. Costa Rica is still processing 44 per cent of the 68,600 requests made since 2018. Of those who have already been granted asylum, only 14,000 (37 per cent) have obtained a work permit.

CENTRAL AMERICA

Per a recently published report by the Regional Forced Displacement Monitoring and Analysis System, composed of Plan International and several local NGOs, 67.2 per cent of forcibly displaced Salvadorans and 58.6 per cent of forcibly displaced Hondurans were threatened wtith death in 2018.

40% of the forcibly displaced are children and adolescents under 18 years of age

The report further breaks down the drivers of displacement by the numbers, citing that 29.8 per cent were forcibly displaced over the murder of a family member, 22.5 percent over the fear of violence and 13.9 per cent over the attempted murder of a family member, among several other reasons. Just over half of the displaced are women, with 53.4 per cent.

MEXICO: SECURITY

KEY FIGURES

17.6K HOMICIDES REGISTERED IN MEXICO IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2019

According to data from the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SNSP), Mexico saw 17,608 killings in the first half of 2019, the most since recordkeeping began in 1997. The record number of homicides, fueled partly by cartel and organized gang violence, represents a 5.3 per cent increase from the first half of 2018.

Cartel violence has notably increased in the northern state of Sonora, where murders are up 69 per cent in the first half of 2019. However, in Sinaloa, a stronghold for cartel activity, homicides declined 23 per cent compared to the first half of 2018. Figures for June show 3,080 homicides, up eight per cent from June 2018.

Mexico is now witnessing as many as 100 murders per day across the country

CENTRAL AMERICA: DENGUE

KEY FIGURES

$10M ALLOCATED BY HONDURAS FOR INSTITUTIONAL DENGUE RESPONSE

220% INCREASE IN CASES OF DENGUE IN EL SALVADOR COMPARED TO THE 2,700 CASES IN 2018

8.3K CASES OF DENGUE IN GUATEMALA AS OF 13 JULY

90%+ DROP IN DENGUE CASES IN JAMAICA FROM JANUARY TO JUNE 2019

HONDURAS

The Government is allocating more than US$10 million for public institutions to respond to the dengue outbreak currently gripping Honduras.
Additionally, the Government will allocate more than $2 million to affected municipalities for dengue response.

As of epidemiological week 29, Honduras has seen 33,840 cases, with 8,662 cases of severe dengue and 150 deaths. Of Honduras’ 32 public hospitals, 26 are overrun with cases; officials have postponed planned operations to manage the volume of cases.

Health officials have not ruled out taking over schools to accommodate the increasing number of patients

With Honduras’ three-month rainy season set to begin, which will likely cause more mosquito activity, PAHO/ WHO estimates that the peak of the outbreak is still on the horizon, placing more importance on effective awareness and sanitation campaigns.

EL SALVADOR

On 25 July, the Ministry of Health reported 8,893 cases so far this year, a 220 per cent increase from the 2,700 cases registered by in the same reporting period in 2018.

There are nine deaths currently under investigation for suspected links to the disease.

Hospitalizations are also up with 2,241 in 2019 compared to 643 in 2018. The Ministry is also reporting an 88 per cent increase in Zika cases and 64 per cent increase in Chikungunya cases.

GUATEMALA

The Ministry of Health reports that Guatemala has, as of 13 July, some 8,370 cases of dengue. Health authorities note that there have only been 38 cases of severe dengue, resulting in 27 deaths, including 18 children.

Although the cases through 13 July are nearly double the cases in 13 July 2017, they are well below the peak of 19,700 cases through 13 July in 2014. Most cases are in the departments of Escuintla, Huehuetenango, Izabal, Quetzaltenango and San Marcos.

The Ministry reports that national hospitals currently have the capacity to respond to the outbreak. The Ministry is carrying out fumigation campaigns and urging residents to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds as a vector control measure.

JAMAICA

Officials from the Ministry of Health and Wellness reported on 24 July that Jamaica now has only 124 cases of dengue, a drop of more than 90 per cent from the 1,943 cases recorded in January 2019. Summer will see a likely increase in mosquito, prompting the Ministry to begin vector control programs that include public education campaigns, home inspections, breeding site removal and island-wide fumigations by parish health departments.

CARIBBEAN: HURRICANE SEASON

KEY FIGURES

20% CHANCE OF TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION THROUGH FIVE DAYS

Per 28-29 July monitoring by National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there is limited shower activity associated with a tropical wave over the eastern Caribbean Sea.

This system is expected to move westnorthwestward across the Caribbean Sea and the Greater Antilles during the next few days bringing locally heavy rainfall and possibly some flooding across portions of these islands, including Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti).

Little or no development of this disturbance is anticipated during the coming days due to interaction with land.

However, conditions could be slightly more conducive for tropical cyclone formation when the system reaches the Florida Straits or the Bahamas over the weekend.

SOUTH AMERICA: VOLCANIC ACTIVITY

KEY FIGURES

29K PEOPLE REMAIN AFFECTED BY VOLCANIC ERUPTION IN PERU

670 FAMILIES IN BOLIVIA AFFECTED BY ASHFALL FROM VOLCANIC ERUPTION IN PERU

PERU

The National Civil Defense Institute (INDECI) reports that the initial estimate of people affected by the 19 July eruption of the Ubinas volcano in south eastern Peru remains at 29,000 people, with 1,200 considered to be the most affected and in need of temporary shelter in coming days.

INDECI reports that the eruption has not incurred any damage or loss of life, noting that State response so far has mostly been preventive. Officials from Peru’s Volcanology Observatory (OVI) are recommending the immediate evacuation of priority communities in Moquegua as a precaution.

The Government has extended the state of emergency to include 12 districts in the Puno region, in addition to the declarations already in place for Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna.

Authorities continue to monitor the volcano, which remains under orange alert by the Geophysics Institute of Peru (IGP).

BOLIVIA

Bolivian Civil Defense (VIDECI) officials say that the situation is under control in the nine affected municipalities affected by the ashfall.

VIDECI added that emergency response staff deployed to the area were able to respond to the 670 families affected, with authorities providing thousands of masks and purification tablets as well.

Education authorities suspended all activities in the affected municipalities until further notice.

SOUTH AMERICA: EXTREME WINTER

KEY FIGURES

4K FAMILIES AFFECTED BY HARSH WINTER CONDITIONS IN COCHABAMBA, BOLIVIA

4.7K PEOPLE IN CENTRAL CHILE LEFT ISOLATED BY HARSH WINTER CONDITIONS

18K PEOPLE IN WESTERN ARGENTINA LEFT ISOLATED BY HARSH WINTER CONDITIONS

BOLIVIA

Winter temperatures as low as 0º C have been recorded throughout Bolivia, accompanied by high winds, snowfall and frost. The extreme conditions are causing extensive crop damages, shutting down major transport highways and forcing schools to suspend activities.

Bolivia’s National Meteorology and Hydrology Service (SENAMHI) declared an orange agricultural risk alert for all of Bolivia given the risks posed to livestock and crops, as well as related livelihoods and food security.

Department officials in Cochabamba reported on 26 July that the harsh cold has already damaged 4,685 hectares of crops and 60,000 heads of cattle, affecting some 4,000 families across 198 communities, adding that municipal authorities in affected areas are already procuring supplies to replenish lost crops.

The intense snowfall prompted transit authorities to close major highways in Tarija until further notice. Some 2,200 schools across the departments of Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Potosí and Tarija were forced to suspend classes over the inclement weather. Authorities report that the cold temperatures have already claimed two lives.

CHILE

Per the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of the Interior (ONEMI), snowfall, high winds of 50 km/h or faster and overall inclement weather in the central Chilean region of Araucanía has affected thousands.

At least 4,700 people have been cut off due to damages to roads, while some 6,500 have been left without power.
Powerful storms have also affected local water supplies.

Local response authorities are at work clearing access roads and repairing affected power and water supply infrastructure. ONEMI has since called off its alert over the weather system that brought on the extreme conditions, although they are maintaining a yellow alert for snowfall in select communities.

ARGENTINA

Intense snowfall from a recent cold front over Bariloche in western Argentina near the Chilean border has cut off some 18,000 people according to the latest report from Argentina’s Comprehensive Risk Management System (SINAGIR), who also note that power failures are affecting some 21,000 people in the area. Structural damages have been minor.

REGIONAL: DROUGHT

KEY FIGURES

75% RAINFALL DEFICIT IN CENTRAL COSTA RICA

70% OF NICARAGUA’S POPULATION DEPENDS ON AGRICULTURE FOR LIVELIHOODS

17% OF CHILDREN UNDER FIVE IN NICARAGUA AFFECTED BY CHRONIC MALNUTRITION

COSTA RICA

On 23 July, the Government of Costa Rica declared a state of emergency over irregular and insufficient rainfall brought on by El Niño, noting the ongoing effects to farming production and the environment.

The emergency was declared for select cantons in the provinces of Alajuela,
Cartago, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and San José. The central province of Cartago, in particular, registered a 75 per cent rainfall deficit, followed by 47 per cent in the northern Pacific region, and 30 per cent in the central Pacific region.

The state of emergency will allow authorities to proceed with a plan of action and dispose emergency resources from various institutions to respond to needs and restore agricultural infrastructure.

NICARAGUA

The effects of the weak El Niño phenomenon in Central America has caused below-average rainfall in northern Nicaragua since mid-June, decreasing water availability and likely affecting the first harvest season in August.

The abnormally dry conditions are expected negatively affect livelihood conditions and drive food insecurity, with affected areas expected to experience what the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) qualifies as Stressed (IPC-2) food security outcomes until January 2020.
More vulnerable households may face Crisis (IPC-3) outcomes and could resort to reduced food consumption and selling productive assets. Food assistance, livelihoods support and WASH are expected to be priority needs as the situation develops.

Per WFP, 70 per cent of Nicaragua’s population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. Chronic malnutrition already affects 17 per cent of children under five, a rate that is even higher in northern departments affected by insufficient rainfall.

CARIBBEAN

The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) is warning that they expect several heatwaves between August and October, with higher temperatures than the previous two years. CIMH adds that the impact would especially be felt by livestock.

Despite the outlook, CIMH also notes that whatever rainfall that may be expected will be intense and provide some measure of relief, while also noting the potential for flash floods and flooding.

CIMH said that a drought warning should be considered for northern Belize, Dominica, French Guiana, Martinique, St. Bart’s and St. Martin, adding that long term drought might possibly develop in Antigua, Barbados, southeast Belize, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Suriname, and United States Virgin Islands

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.