European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Latin America and Caribbean

© 2019 European Union (Photographer N. Mazars)

The Latin America and Caribbean region – one of the world's most disaster-prone areas and amongst the most affected by violence and forced displacement – is home to close to 650 million people. EU humanitarian aid focuses on the populations most affected by natural hazards and man-made crises, including violence and population displacement, and on preparing communities to face multiple disasters.

Droughts, floods, hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions regularly devastate infrastructure, causing significant loss of lives and livelihoods. The Niño phenomenon – an abnormal warming of the Pacific Ocean, which wreaks havoc on global weather patterns – is one such catastrophic weather event.

Hurricane seasons are getting extreme by the year. In 2020, the Atlantic hurricane season was the busiest ever recorded with  30 named storms and 13 hurricanes. It was only one with two major hurricanes – ETA and IOTA – hitting only 15 days apart in November, the month traditionally considered the end of the hurricane season. Their impact left millions of people in Central America in need of humanitarian assistance.

In 2017, another extreme hurricane season had destroyed large parts of the Caribbean, when Irma and Maria – both category five, maximum-strength cyclones – battered the islands of Dominica, Cuba, and Antigua and Barbuda.

Conflict and violence also plague several Latin American and Caribbean countries. Despite the peace agreement reached in 2016, new dynamics in Colombia’s long-standing internal conflict have resulted in new internal displacement and a growing number of communities without access to basic services. Since its start, the conflict has generated a staggering official figure of 7.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs) – the world’s largest number.

The plummeting crisis in Venezuela keeps forcing its citizens to flee and has turned into one of the largest exoduses of people in Latin America’s history. There are nearly 5.5 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees scattered across the world and 4.5 million of them are in Latin America, often living in situations of vulnerability.

Central America’s 'Northern Triangle' of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala accounts for violence rates and humanitarian effects similar to war zones. Armed violence leads to the forced displacement of thousands of vulnerable families and children.

With more than 15 million cases, the coronavirus global pandemic has hit Latin America and the Caribbean hard, exacerbating difficulties and posing an additional layer of vulnerability to all those who needed humanitarian assistance.

The World Food Program (WFP) states the pandemic and the consequent lockdown measures contributed to a sharp increase of food insecurity in the region, with more than 17 million people falling into poverty and hunger.

Central America is the most food-insecure area, with crops and livelihoods affected by recurrent droughts. Up to 4.4 million are food insecure in the “Dry Corridor”, a 1,600-kilometre arid stripe of land running through of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The food crisis is also severely affecting Haiti, where it is estimated that one million people are in dire need of food assistance.

The European Union has assisted in all major recent disasters, like hurricanes, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and the tsunami.

The EU continues to assist communities affected by the conflict in Colombia and violence in Central America and Mexico, as well as vulnerable populations affected by the consequences of the complex situation in Venezuela, which has affected more than 17 countries in the region.

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