UNITED NATIONS, New York—In response to the different states of high alert across Central America, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has been mobilizing resources to provide lifesaving reproductive health care in the region. Over 1.2 million people have been affected by Tropical Depression 12-E, which has caused heavy rain and severe flooding.
Medical facilities in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras have been wiped out or made unreachable by the current natural disaster. Urgent safe motherhood interventions can mean the difference between life and death for pregnant women and their infants, and for other children and relatives under their care.
In El Salvador, where over 300,000 people have been affected by severe flooding, UNFPA has deployed two mobile health centres to cater for 150,000 people, including 50,000 who have sought refuge in shelters. Over 5,000 dignity kits were also immediately distributed to families by UNFPA partners at the onset of the crisis. These kits include hygiene items such as soap, sanitary pads and towels. Additional 5,000 kits will be distributed in the coming weeks.
The United Nations has issued a flash appeal for $15.7 million to provide emergency assistance to El Salvador.
In Guatemala, UNFPA is helping to coordinate health brigades consisting of doctors and nurses who will travel to the most affected communities to provide emergency maternal health care and conduct epidemiological surveillance.
In the aftermath of such natural disasters, women and young people may be left unaccompanied—out in the open or in temporary shelters—as chaos and breakdown in policing could lead to increased lawlessness and attacks. In these circumstances, sexual violence may become more widespread.
UNFPA is, therefore, focusing in Nicaragua on preventing gender-based violence in shelters and on providing lifesaving assistance to survivors of sexual violence. Psychosocial assistance is also being provided to women in Guatemala through the training of 50 local psychologists on post-traumatic stress management.
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