With the regional COVID-19 caseload fast approaching 20,000, countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean are working to fight the spread under WHO guidance. UN teams have been supporting government-led responses since February, addressing priority concerns within national humanitarian contexts as COVID-19 threatens to exacerbate existing social, economic and political crises. The UN launched a US$2 billion global response plan for countries with existing crises; for Latin America and the Caribbean, this includes Colombia, Haiti and Venezuela, as well as the Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants Response Plan.
CENTRAL AMERICA: COVID-19
Central America is responding with national efforts and sub-regional efforts. The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) is allocating nearly US$2 billion to Central American Integration System (SICA) countries to support emergency budgets and central banks and purchase testing kits. El Salvador has identified some 126,000 households in need of food assistance. Honduras notes that they are receiving 400 returned migrants each week, requiring additional health screening and information material. Guatemala reports they require US$1.4 million in medication and 2,000 healthcare professionals over the next three months.
SOUTH AMERICA: COVID-19
Governments in South America continue to respond to the impact of COVID-19, impacts that are also affecting their response as host countries for significant populations of Venezuelan refugees and migrants. In Ecuador, R4V Response for Venezuelans partners have suspended 46 per cent of their 257 reported programs and projects, with most of the 118 suspended programs in north-central provinces near the Colombian border. Entry restrictions in Colombia have halted activities along the border as well. R4V partners in Peru report reaching 42,000 migrants and refugees with COVID-19 information during the first 10 days of nationwide quarantine.
Countries and territories across the Caribbean are tackling COVID-19, both individually and together through PAHO/WHO, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Regional Coordinating Mechanism for Health Security and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). Key gaps identified include laboratory testing and limited availability of isolation facilities, ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Additionally, CDEMA is working with WFP to strengthen regional logistics arrangements and the supply chain in the Caribbean.
CENTRAL AMERICA: FOOD SECURITY
Poorer households in the Dry Corridor affected by recurring droughts have depleted basic grains stocks and are now purchasing food earlier than expected, prompting negative coping strategies. An increasing number of households will face Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 3 - Crisis outcomes, particularly in Guatemala come May 2020. Neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are likely to lead to a normal beginning to the rainy season and average first crop cycle (Primera), however. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food access in the Dry Corridor remains a key concern.
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras and Peru experienced rainfall and flooding during March. The flooding in Honduras alone accounted for well over half the people affected by floods in the region during March. While seasonal rains in South America are abating, Central America will enter its rainy season in April-May. Future response efforts may be hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; a flood-affected indigenous community of 350 families in eastern Ecuador did not allow the National Emergency Risk Management Service (SNGRE) access to their community to deliver aid due to fears of COVID-19 infection.