Central America: EU increases humanitarian support by €5 million and delivers additional in kind assistance to hurricane victims

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Further EU assistance has been delivered today in Honduras to the victims of Hurricanes ETA and IOTA in the country through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Queen Letizia of Spain is in Honduras as two shipments totalling some 17.7 tonnes of cargo, including  COVID-19 tests, tents, blankets, jerry cans, kitchen sets and other items are being delivered by Spain. Austria is also sending assistance to Honduras in the next days via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

“The passage of Hurricanes ETA and IOTA has made the humanitarian situation in Central America even more dramatic. Before the year is over, we are channelling an additional €5 million to provide lifesaving activities in a region already affected by a situation of severe food insecurity. I am grateful to Queen Letizia and Spain to bring relief and attention to the situation in Central America as well as to Austria and France for their assistance to the region”, said Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management

This latest allocation, brings the total amount of EU humanitarian funding to Central America to €17.85 million in 2020. Out of these, €3.2 million were channelled over the last month in emergency aid to the victims of the hurricanes across the region.

In addition, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism had already facilitated earlier deliveries of assistance from France and Spain to Honduras, from Spain to Panama, and from France to Guatemala. The EU’s emergency Copernicus satellite service has so far delivered 28 maps of the affected area and the EU’s 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre remains in close contact with the authorities of the affected countries. In addition to its coordination role, the EU finances 75% of the transport costs for assistance dispatched via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Background

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been the most active to ever be recorded and among the most damaging in a decade. Out of the 30 named storms, 13 developed into hurricanes. The consequences of the hurricane season continue to affect the Central American countries. The passage of hurricanes ETA and IOTA, which made landfalls on 4 and 17 November respectively, caused fatalities and damage to buildings and infrastructure in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Belize and Mexico. Hurricanes ETA and IOTA have disrupted the lives of 7.3 million people in Central America and Colombia, forcing more than 700,000 persons out their homes, into overcrowded shelters. All this in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic and in a region which was already struggling against a severe food crisis.

The overall objective of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is to strengthen cooperation between the EU Member States and 6 Participating States (Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Turkey) in the field of civil protection, with a view to improve prevention, preparedness and response to disasters. When the scale of an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance via the Mechanism. Through the Mechanism, the European Commission plays a key role in coordinating the response to disasters in Europe and beyond and contributes to at least 75% of the transport and/or operational costs of deployments.

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