Panama/Geneva, 16 April 2017 – One year after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck coastal Ecuador, the Ecuadorian Red Cross (ERC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have supported thousands of families to recover and rebuild their lives.
The earthquake claimed 663 lives and affected more than 1 million people. Red Cross volunteers were among the first to respond, digging people out from under rubble and providing life-saving and life sustaining assistance in the hours and days that followed. The operation soon expanded, bringing Red Cross personnel from across Ecuador and around the world.
“From the start, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers and students were mobilized to provide humanitarian services, including prehospital care and restoring family links,” said Walter Cotte, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas. “The response from the IFRC also arrived immediately. From the outset, several Red Cross National Societies from the region and from around the world offered expertise and support, ensuring the Ecuadorian Red Cross had the resources it needed to do the job that affected communities needed.”
As emergency needs were met, the Red Cross operation turned to addressing longer-term recovery needs. This includes water and sanitation services that have provided ongoing benefit to around 600 families, and medical and dentistry care to 59 communities via mobile medical units in the city of Pedernales.
Progress has also been made in housing recovery, though needs still remain. Approximately 35,000 homes were destroyed or damaged in the earthquake, with 140,000 people still lacking adequate housing a year on. The Ecuadorian Red Cross with the support of some of their Red Cross and Red Crescent partners, have started a permanent housing project and are providing technical support to affected communities to promote respect and protection of housing, land and property rights.
“There is still much work to be done,” said Carmen Ferrer, the Head of IFRC’s earthquake response operation. “There are families that are still living in shelters one year after the earthquake. We need to continue working to ensure the recovery of these families, so they are able to have their homes again and re-establish their livelihoods.”
“The Ecuadorian Red Cross has been working with the government in a neutral manner, fulfilling its auxiliary role to the public authorities. This coordination has contributed greatly to the impact it is having at the community level,” said Mr Cotte. “We have a collective responsibility towards those people who had their lives interrupted by the 16 April earthquake. We need to honour our obligations in a transparent manner. This first year of remembrance allows us to be accountable and reiterate our commitment to the people living in vulnerable conditions in the affected areas.”