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British Red Cross pledges help for Guatemala

4 June 2010

Two girls walk through floodwater in GuatemalaThe British Red Cross has pledged nearly £35,000 to support the relief effort in Guatemala after Tropical Storm Agatha killed over 150 people and left almost 76,400 in shelters.

The country has had more than 426 mm (around 17 inches) of rain since 28 May, leading to severe flooding and mudslides as rivers burst their banks.

To make matters worse, there are reports of rising prices and some food scarcity in the region due to the storm. In Quetzaltenango, a government evaluation revealed that chicken, meat, vegetables and eggs are difficult to find.

Preparing for disasters

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has carried out a number of projects to help communities prepare for disasters, since Hurricane Mitch killed thousands of people in 1998.

Felipe del Cid, disaster management delegate with the Red Cross’ Pan-American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU), said: “The speed at which the storm formed and touched land complicated the situation considerably.

“Fortunately, thanks to the disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness programmes and initiatives that have been carried out in the region after Hurricane Mitch, we hope that the damage caused by Agatha is not as bad as it could have been otherwise.”

How the Red Cross is helping

Guatemalan Red Cross volunteers have been carrying out search and rescue operations, managing temporary shelters, and assessing the damage to infrastructure and the needs of survivors.

Their assessments show that the most pressing needs are for emergency relief items (hygiene kits, food, kitchen supplies, shelter materials, jerrycans, mosquito nets, water filters and blankets) and emergency health care.

In addition to the British Red Cross’ Disaster Fund contribution, £100,000 donated from the Department for International Development (DfID) will help the Guatemalan Red Cross buy and distribute these relief supplies.

A donation from our Disaster Fund has been made in response to this crisis. Contributions to the Disaster Fund will not be used directly in response to this disaster, but will be used in response to other emergencies in the future.

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