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  • A family takes refuge in a improvised house after the passage of Iota, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Nov. 20, 2020.

    A family takes refuge in a improvised house after the passage of Iota, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Nov. 20, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 20 November 2020
Opinion

The lack of potable water is the biggest problem facing the countries of the region. In addition to COVID-19, there are already cases of malaria and hepatitis.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Thursday called on the international community to join forces to prevent a health crisis in Central America caused by the passage of the Iota and Eta hurricanes.

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"The region is not only facing the crisis caused by the pandemic, but it is also suffering from the lack of access to potable water for thousands of people after the scourge of Eta and Iota," UNICEF warned.

The organization requested that US$46.2 million be urgently allocated to assist over 640,000 affected people.

"That is the money needed to cover the most critical humanitarian needs of over 646,000 people, including 327,000 children, repeatedly affected by floods and landslides in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Belize," UNICEF Regional Chief Laurent Duvillier said.

"If there is stagnant water but no drinking water, there is a very high risk we will have a new outbreak that will add to the VOC-19 pandemic. That would be a triple storm: the hurricane, COVID-19, and new disease outbreaks. That's what we have to avoid, a triple storm," he said.

The first cases of malaria and hepatitis have been reported in several shelters, evidencing the health risk.

"Children and adolescents who survived both hurricanes are now at risk of dying from waterborne and other infectious diseases," UNICEF said.

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