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IP/10/645

Brussels, Tuesday 1st June 2010

The Commission allocates €3 million in humanitarian aid in response to the tropical storm Agatha in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

The European Commission has announced today a humanitarian aid decision worth €3 million to cope with the consequences of tropical storm Agatha. Over 120 people are reported dead, and 160,000 people have been evacuated from the Pacific coast of Central America. Agatha is the first tropical storm of the Pacific hurricane season and has brought torrential rains to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, provoking and floods and mudslides. The aid allocated today will provide relief to 100,000 people in the three countries.

"When disaster strikes, action must be taken rapidly, be well targeted and based on needs. With the aid we are allocating today we are making an immediate gesture of European solidarity for the people of the region. We will continue, however, to monitor the situation closely, in case further needs arise", explains Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner of International Cooperation; Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

The funds will provide assistance for the most vulnerable victims of this catastrophe. They will be used to finance the distribution of emergency food supplies, drinking water, first aid kits, as well as primary health care, sanitation and emergency shelter.

Background

In Guatemala, a state of emergency has been declared throughout the country. According to official reports, 21,868 people are under threat. Certain regions of El Salvador are heavily flooded as a consequence of than 400mm of rainfall. 733 sites have been identified as being at risk of mudslides, and according to the authorities, 90% of the country could be under threat if the heavy rains continue.

The authorities of Honduras have declared a "red alert" in 17 areas of the country. The worst affected regional zones 1, 4 and 5.

In all three countries, national and local emergency committees have been activated, and are beginning to evacuate the worst affected areas.

Community alert and communication systems, set-up by the disaster risk reduction programme (DIPECHO) financed by ECHO, have been triggered enabling the activation of the civil protection committees. These committees have carried out search and rescue operations as well as evacuations. The recently ECHO funded evacuation centres and equipment have been used extensively.

Since 29 May, the Humanitarian Aid Service of the Commission (ECHO) has been in contact with its relief partners working in the three countries, closely monitoring the situation and providing vital needs assessments.

For More info on Commission's humanitarian aid:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm


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