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Central America awaits second hurricane

Barely two weeks after Eta, Category 5 Iota will make landfall in Nicaragua tonight (16/11)


Nicaragua and Honduras brace themselves, as Christian Aid continues its response to the ongoing emergency

The category 5 Hurricane Iota is due to make landfall in Nicaragua tonight, hitting the same parts of the country as Hurricane Eta did less than two weeks ago. Landslides and floods have already caused devastation across the region with millions of people affected. Homes and crops have been flattened.  

Moises Gonzalez, Christian Aid’s Head of Latin America and the Caribbean, based in the capital, Managua, said: ‘We – alongside local partners and other agencies working in the region – had barely begun our humanitarian response to Hurricane Eta when we saw reports of a second hurricane, just as powerful. This is particularly worrying for people in temporary shelters who will have no real defence against the elements when the storm hits.’

Hurricane Eta batters Nicaragua. Video: AFP, 3 November 2020
Storm Eta lashes Honduras. Video: Global News, 6 November 2020
Maize crops belonging to Hermina Castillo – a female farmer in La Esperanza village in Bocay, Nicaragua – destroyed by Hurricane Eta. Image: Christian Aid

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Category 4 Hurricane Eta caused devastation across Central America last week. After hitting Nicaragua’s north-eastern Atlantic coast, it moved slowly across the region, dumping enormous amounts of heavy rain before moving on to Florida. Deadly landslides and widespread floods left thousands of people stranded. Initial reports indicate that millions of people across the region were affected.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), initial estimates pointed to over 2.5 million people affected across Central America, primarily in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala.

‘Back-to-back hurricanes have become a grave reality in recent years’, said Gonzales, ‘and many believe that this may not be the last serious hurricane in this year’s season. People are having to pick up their lives, start again, only to be hit by another hurricane or strong storm. Their resilience is incredible and unfortunately this has become a way of life for many.”’

Christian Aid and its local partner Soppexcca have started distributing food and hygiene kits to 5,000 individuals who are in desperate need and will also refer them for psychological support if required. They face food insecurity, malnutrition and increased health risks, including COVID-19. Relief efforts will concentrate on remote areas in the north east of the country where accessibility was already a challenge before these latest two hurricanes.

Working in partnership with local partners Soppexcca and Centro Humboldt as well as peer agencies operating in Nicaragua, Christian Aid secured £40,703 specifically for the emergency response in Nicaragua. This comes from The Start Fund which is collectively owned and managed by Start Network’s members, and supported by the governments of the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Jersey and the IKEA Foundation. It provides rapid financing to underfunded crises, filling a critical gap in humanitarian financing.

Main Image: Hurricane ETA batters Central America. / Inti OCON/AFP

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