Hurricanes Eta/Iota has resulted in additional protection risks and increased needs in high-risk communities already affected by violence and insecurity in the region. Affected populations are unable to return to their homes due to high water levels and continued rainfall. Protection monitoring indicates that the situation in shelters is dire in terms of WASH, prevention of COVID-19, basic supplies and SGBV prevention and response.
Evacuations continue as rainfall has yet to cease in mountain areas and rivers continue to rise in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Humanitarian access to urban and coastal communities also remains limited. In Nicaragua, 60% of the territory has been affected, including Puerto Cabezas and Bilwi (Northern Caribbean) and the South Pacific area. In Jinotega and Matagalpa, further deaths and damage to infrastructure and housing could be expected due to landslides. In Honduras, humanitarian access is still limited in some areas of Cortes Department, including the surroundings of San Pedro Sula.
The municipalities with the highest number of shelters (San Pedro Sula and Choloma) were also the main areas of origin and reception of IDPs prior to Eta, according to preliminary findings of the Multi-sectorial Rapid Assessment. In addition, a high number of persons with specific needs, particularly older persons, persons with disabilities and women at risk have been identified.
In Guatemala, people of concern affected by tropical storms were identified in Izabal department and 10 persons in Petén were unable to start their asylum process in Guatemala City due to road conditions. UNHCR continues to advocate for a comprehensive response that includes persons of concern within the framework of government and local interventions and provides support through NFI kits (mosquito repellents; towels; buckets; mattresses), medical masks, soap bars, individual hygiene kits, and family food kits. In addition, psychosocial support, including psychological first aid, individual counselling and group sessions, as well as recreational activities are being held in shelters to support those displaced by the natural disasters. Refugee Housing Units have been provided to store humanitarian aid and to scale-up the shelter capacity in the most affected areas.
In Honduras, UNHCR and partners assisted 1,973 beneficiaries in shelters located in four prioritized affected municipalities in Cortes Department. The assistance includes distributions of hygiene kits, PPEs, food kits and provision of specialized protection services such as psychosocial support, health care and protection information. A joint Flash Appeal was launched with requirements totaling USD69.2M. UNHCR has requested USD2.36M to carry out life-saving interventions and emergency activities, including USD1.25M to scale-up protection in communities; USD950k for NFIs, recovery of community centres, and shelter for persons at risk; and USD161k for WASH activities in community centres and schools in at risk areas.
Coordination with partners, within UN Country Teams and Humanitarian Teams and with governments is ongoing to support the emergency response in the affected countries. In addition,
UNHCR continues monitoring the developing situation with community leaders, government and local authorities, and engaging with the private sector to join the humanitarian response.