Relief Official Views Flood Disaster in Nicaragua

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With an estimated 1.2 million people in Central America affected by severe
floods, the United Nations is mobilizing resources to provide life-saving
assistance to those in need, as a senior UN relief official visiting Nicaragua
described the situation in the country as a “real disaster.”

“When you have close to 10 per cent of your geographic area under water, I would
say that is a disaster,” said Catherine Bragg, the Assistant Secretary-General
for Humanitarian Affairs, who will also visit El Salvador starting tomorrow.

“I have been seeing areas where the poorest people were affected and now they
have moved to drier land. There is the immediate response that has to happen
[and] the level of the lake that surrounds Managua is still rising, which is a
permanent threat,” she said when she visited the flood-affected Domitila Lugo
area, a low-lying part of the Tipitapa municipality, about 19 kilometres from
the capital, Managua.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), meanwhile, reported that many medical facilities
in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras have been damaged or are
inaccessible after the flooding that has followed weeks of torrential rainfall
blamed on a tropical depression in the region.

In El Salvador, where over 300,000 people have been affected by floods, UNFPA
has deployed two mobile health centres to cater for 150,000 people, including
50,000 who have sought refuge in shelters.

More than 5,000 hygiene kits were distributed to families by UNFPA partners at
the onset of the crisis. The kits include hygiene items such as soap, sanitary
pads and towels. An additional 5,000 kits will be distributed in the coming
weeks.

The UN has issued a flash appeal for $15.7 million to provide emergency
assistance to an estimated 300,000 people affected by the disaster in El
Salvador, and a separate appeal for $14.3 million for 134,000 affected
Nicaraguans.

In Guatemala, UNFPA is helping to coordinate health units made up of doctors and
nurses who will travel to the most affected communities to provide emergency
maternal health care and conduct epidemiological surveillance.

In Nicaragua, UNFPA is focusing on preventing gender-based violence in shelters
for those displace by the floods and on providing 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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