Guatemala City/Geneva, 7 June 2018 – At the end of his visit to the volcano Fuego disaster zone, the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Francesco Rocca, said:
“We should not underestimate the scale of this disaster. Critical, emergency needs are still enormous, and affected communities will need sustained and long-term support.
“For the families worst affected, we believe the recovery process will take at least a year. These people lost everything – homes, livelihoods and tragically, loved ones.
“These families are our priority, but the eruptions have had a much larger impact. Fine ash has fallen across more than half of the country, covering areas were agriculture is a key activity. The economic impact of this is unclear. We hope it will not mean a secondary disaster
“I was deeply impressed by the massive and courageous response of the Guatemala Red Cross. Our volunteers have been responding since Sunday. They are exhausted, but their resolve is unwavering.
“IFRC stands behind the Guatemala Red Cross, and I call all our Red Cross Red Crescent global network and our partners around the world to support them.“
At least 75 people have been killed following Sunday’s eruption of the Fuego volcano. An estimated 12,000 have been evacuated, with 1.7 million people affected in some way.
Guatemala Red Cross has mobilized a massive response. Emergency teams have provided medical and psychosocial support to survivors, and ambulances from three Red Cross branches ferried wounded to hospitals in Guatemala City.
Yesterday (6 June), IFRC released 250,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to boost the disaster response operation. The allocation will help the Guatemala Red Cross support 3,000 of the most vulnerable survivors for three months. The services will include medical and health support, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter, food and relief items, Restoring Family Links and psychosocial support. Evaluations are ongoing to assess the growing needs, and the response will be adjusted accordingly.