The European Union announced new humanitarian funding of €18.5 million for the Latin American and Caribbean region, an area where numerous natural disasters threaten already vulnerable communities. The amount announced today includes €15 million to support preparedness of local communities and institutions for natural disasters throughout the region: Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Haiti. A further €2.5 million will support projects addressing violence, and €1 million for food assistance in Central America.
“Investing in disaster preparedness today saves lives tomorrow. The European Union has assisted the Latin American and Caribbean region in all major recent natural disasters, be it hurricanes, forest fires, floods or volcanic eruptions. Our new funding is part of efforts to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change and better prepared for the next crisis," said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
The aid package will boost local capacities to respond to emergencies, implement early warning systems, and increase access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Communities supported include vulnerable ethnic groups living in rural or urban areas and disaster management institutions. Additionally, this support will provide food assistance to populations stricken by natural disasters and severe drought, and provide protection and basic assistance to communities affected by violence in Central America.
Including the latest announcement for Colombia in June, the European Union has allocated a total of €79.5 million in 2019 to support people in need in the region, of which €16 million went toward disaster preparedness and prevention. Since 1994, the EU has provided more than €1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean, focusing on the populations most affected by natural disasters and violence.
Latin America and the Caribbean are among the world's most disaster-prone areas, being highly exposed to natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis, landslides and droughts. Haiti continues to be among the top three countries most affected by extreme events in the last two decades.
Approximately three-quarters of the population live in at-risk areas, and one-third live in areas highly exposed to disasters in the continent. The urban poor are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters with high human and economic costs, affecting societies that suffer from significant inequalities.
Additionally, the El Niño phenomenon regularly causes catastrophic weather events such as droughts and floods with large humanitarian consequences. Vulnerable communities affected by protracted drought are in need of food assistance, livelihood recovery and resilience-strengthening measures.
In Central America, at least 487,000 people are internally displaced (IDPs) as a consequence of organised violence in the three most violent countries in the region (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador). Affected communities require protection as first priority, with specific attention to women and children who are the most exposed to threats and gender based violence.