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Hunger crisis looms in Guatemala after Hurricane Stan

WFP has repeated an urgent appeal to donors to help feed an estimated 285,000 victims of Hurricane Stan, warning that they are confronting a severe hunger crisis as early as this Christmas.

“Many people have lost some or all of their crops, especially those dependent on terracing. Their homes have been damaged and in some cases destroyed,” said Duilio Perez, WFP Emergency Coordinator for Guatemala.

“Entire villages have seen their sanitation and water systems partially or completely wiped out.”

Time bomb

“All of this has occurred in a country where even before the Hurricane struck, the rate of chronic hunger among children was almost 50 percent – the highest in the region."

"Many people, if they haven’t lost everything, only have enough food to last them until the harvest begins in December, assuming they will harvest anything. We are looking at a ticking time bomb with grave consequences for thousands of people.”

There is a very short time-line to receive money for this crisis
Duilio Perez, WFP Emergency Coordinator
Perez, like local officials in the affected areas in the western highlands, expressed concern that as the weather grew colder, people would need a higher intake of calories.

Also, if their bodies were weakened by hunger, they would be more susceptible to disease. In addition, according to local authorities, a growing danger of gastro-intestinal diseases caused by damage to sanitation and water systems, could have a severe effect on the hungry and become devastating for children already suffering from chronic hunger.

Show support

On 27 October, WFP appealed for US$ 14.1 million to assist the affected population for six months.

WFP especially appeals to governments and corporations in Latin America to show their support for neighbouring Guatemala.

Dwindling supplies

“There is a very short time-line to receive money for this crisis,” Perez said.

“We need to be able to move quickly to buy food, distribute it and prepare for the coming months. As people’s dwindling supplies run out and as they gather smaller harvests, they will need food assistance – especially when you take into consideration that it will be another year before they can harvest the next crop.”