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Humanitarians target 1.4 million vulnerable people in storm-weary Honduras

21 Jan 2021

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Makeshift settlements along the Bulevar del Sur, Chamelecón, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, January 2021. © OCHA ROLAC

By Veronique Durroux-Malpartida, Head of the Information Unit in OCHA ROLAC 

Two months after the devastating impact of Tropical Storm Eta and Hurricane Iota in Honduras, many people are still in shelters and parts of the country are still reeling from waters and mud brought about by the floods.

With needs continuing to mount, the UN and partners have issued an addendum to the Flash Appeal that now sets the financing requirements at US$90 million to help 1.4 million particularly vulnerable people.

“Honduras has been hit by a series of crises that have strained the resilience of its people,” said Alice Shackelford, the UN Resident Coordinator.

Tropical Storm Eta and Hurricane Iota have compounded an already complex situation featuring the combined effects of chronic food insecurity, dengue fever outbreaks and the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many without shelter, income or sufficient means to cope with these multifaceted risks.

Less than two weeks after Tropical Storm Eta battered the country in early November 2020, Honduras was hit by Hurricane Iota, a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale that marked the first time that two major storms formed in the Atlantic basin during November. With a slightly different trajectory than Eta, Hurricane Iota caused flooding and landslides in the northern part of the country, exacerbating an already difficult situation. The two storms have caused severe damage only comparable to Hurricane Mitch in 1998, resulting in humanitarian needs for millions of people.

The village of El Higuero, Choloma, department of Cortés, Honduras, December 2020. © World Vision

The addendum to the Flash Appeal highlights that the greatest needs for these affected people are in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, shelter, protection, food security and protection, including gender-based violence and child protection.

Other issues include the contamination of wells in rural areas, as well as the collapse of latrines, scores of still-flooded homes and homes that were all but destroyed. In the shelter sector, needs are especially critical in areas affected by Iota, where many shelters are not suitable, leading to growing concerns over COVID-19 contagion risks and reports of violence.

“It is necessary to strengthen international solidarity to ensure that children have the possibility of returning to school, that pregnant women have access to health services, that communities have protection and access to food security, and that the health and water and sanitation systems are re-established in these challenging times,” said Ms. Shackelford.

As of 13 January, the funding for the Flash Appeal has reached $25.7 million out of $90 million.

Read more: Addendum to Flash Appeal