The Latin America and Caribbean region – one of the world's most disaster-prone areas – is home to close to 650 million people. EU humanitarian aid focuses on the populations most affected by natural disasters and man-made crises, including violence and population displacement, and on preparing communities to face multiple hazards.
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. The extreme 2017 hurricane season destroyed large parts of the Caribbean, when Irma and Maria – both category five, maximum-strength cyclones – battered the islands of Dominica, Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, leaving millions in need of humanitarian assistance.
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 7.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) – the world’s largest number.
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.
Central America is also vulnerable to food insecurity, with crops and livelihoods affected by recurrent droughts. Estimates for 2019 indicate up to 3 million people could need food assistance in the “Dry Corridor” of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
The Commission has provided assistance in all major recent disasters, such as Haiti's devastating earthquake and Chile’s earthquakes and tsunami in 2010. The European Commission has provided support for the earthquakes in Ecuador (2016) and Mexico (2017) as well as for the hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and the Volcan de Fuego eruption in 2018. The Commission also increasingly assists vulnerable populations affected by the consequences of the complex situation in Venezuela.