Washington, DC—Just two weeks after the destruction of Hurricane Eta, Central America has now been battered by Hurricane Iota, compounding an urgent humanitarian emergency in countries among the hardest hit by COVID-19.
“Central America is still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Eta, which displaced hundreds of thousands of families,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “After holding or diverting aid in recent years, now is the time for the United States to renew its commitment to the region, starting with immediate humanitarian assistance to help survivors and to prevent the wider spread of COVID-19. Like Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the impact of these storms will be felt for decades and require long-term commitments in development aid to help region fully recover.
“To ensure that we do not return people to dangerous and unstable situations, the U.S. government should immediately suspend all deportations and expulsions to the region, especially for children, who cannot safely return to their country during this crisis,” Young said.
Hurricane Eta devastated communities in southern Mexico and throughout Central America, with Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala suffering the most severe impact. Over 3.6 million people have been affected in the region. Iota hit on Monday just 15 miles from Eta’s landfall.
The effects of the hurricane will exacerbate existing instability, including widespread gang violence, pervasive gender-based violence and child abuse, and unchecked corruption. These factors already propel children to leave; now worsened by COVID and natural disasters, more children are likely to seek safety elsewhere.
Support is urgently needed for search and rescue, evacuation, medical attention, food, shelter, and personal protective equipment to prevent spread of COVID-19. Homes and crops have been destroyed, and nearly two hundred deaths have been recorded. Families have been forced to stay in crowded shelters, placing them at even greater risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, email@example.com, 202-631-9990