Louis Michel stressed that international donors and in particular the EU should not forget about the people in need in Guatemala and El Salvador: “Nowadays, the world seems to be focused on hurricanes Wilma and Alpha, as well as on the Asian earthquake victims in Pakistan and Kashmir. But no matter how pressing the needs in Asia are, it is of the uttermost importance that Europe continues its assistance to those affected by tropical storm Stan.” The Commission’s additional aid will primarily target a population living in shelters in Guatemala, but will also benefit the entire population living in the most severely affected districts of the country. As concerns El Salvador, the first emergency needs were already covered by the Primary Emergency Decision. Nevertheless, approximately 1,000 families from this country will benefit from the additional aid given by the Commission.
Specific attention will be paid to the needs of vulnerable groups, such as children, women, elderly, disabled and indigenous minorities. With a view to the disaster prone areas, priority will also be given to operations that mainstream disaster risk reduction in their relief activities. Furthermore, small scale emergency rehabilitation of houses, rural roads and bridges will be supported, to enable the efficiency of emergency aid.
Since the passage of Tropical Storm Stan, both Guatemala and El Salvador suffered profoundly. In Guatemala, there are 664 confirmed deaths, whereas 844 persons are missing. The UN estimates that 30% of the Guatemalan territory has suffered the consequences of the crisis. Thousands of houses have been damaged or have been completely destroyed. Therefore, some 140,000 people are being housed in emergency shelters. In El Salvador, the intense and devastating rains have caused 65 deaths and the displacement of more than 54,000 people into temporary shelters. Thousands more have taken temporary refuge in the homes of friends and relatives.
Since most vulnerable communities have lost their livelihoods, many people will continue to depend on the provision of international aid. As a consequence of the floods, roads and bridges have been severely damaged or completely destroyed. Many Mayan communities in the highlands have been cut off. On top of these infrastructural constraints, the continuing heavy rains hamper the aid distribution as well as the return of the population to their houses.