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Statement by WFP Executive Director on WFP's Humanitarian Response to Tropical Storm Agatha

Tropical Storm Agatha in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that left 180 people dead, thousands homeless and caused immeasurable damage, was a cruel reminder of the vulnerability of Central America as we head in to the hurricane season.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and the suffering that disproportionately affects the poorest and most vulnerable populations, especially women and small children. This is especially troubling because this is just the start of what is expected to be a harsh hurricane season.

We wish to express our deepest condolences to President Alvaro Colom (Guatemala), President Porfirio Lobo (Honduras) and President Mauricio Funes (El Salvador) for their losses and commend them for their leadership and the swift action of their national institutions to bring relief to the affected populations.

The World Food Programme supports Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in their efforts to overcome this calamity.  WFP’s Central American Centre for Humanitarian Response based in Panama is activated, with food provisions and support for the storage and distribution of humanitarian supplies.

In each country, WFP staff - who work closely with government officials and other partners on existing programmes - are stepping up efforts to support the disaster response. In Guatemala, WFP has launched an Emergency Operation to assist 50,000 people in affected areas of the central and southern coasts and the western highlands. Food distributions will be covering critical gaps and supporting the government’s response.

Over the next two days, our team in Honduras will provide food rations to more than 9,000 people living in affected villages in the Southern Departments of Choluteca, Francisco Morazan, El Paraiso and Valle. WFP will also donate tools including shovels, picks and wheelbarrows to help communities remove the mud and sand deposited by the floods and high waves. In El Salvador, WFP is currently providing logistical support to the Government to assist the affected populations
 

For Further information:

Emilia Casella, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Mob.  +41-792857304
Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1-202-4223383
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob.  +1-646-8241112