Guatemala City (15 Nov 2012) – Having survived a powerful earthquake, hundreds of homeless children in remote indigenous villages in south-west Guatemala are now facing freezing night time temperatures.
Plan Guatemala said that temperatures in these remote areas in the indigenous municipality of San Juan Ostuncalco are dropping as low as zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).
Many of the people in these difficult-to-reach farming villages are sheltering in churches and schools many of which were damaged and are with without walls to protect against the cold. They are expected to be in shelters for about three months.
“Boys and girls are affected by many problems: the cold, the hunger, the uncertainty about what will happen. Plan has moved very quickly to reach the most remote and least protected,” said Débora Cóbar, Country Director of Plan Guatemala.
Fernando Fuentes, of the local NGO CENACIDEsaid: "The infrastructure has been badly damaged, water systems collapsed and there are many houses that are virtually uninhabitable. Families have a lot of anguish because they don’t know if they will have a home to live in the near future.
“The government has provided mattresses and blankets, but they have received only one per each family and families here have as many as 8 to 10 children," he added.
Plan Guatemala is providing emergency food supplies consisting beans, rice, water, corn flour and a high-nutrition beverage and non-food items comprising mattresses, blankets, hygiene and cleaning kits, trash cans and bags, and tools to clean rubble.
Children’s lives have been turned upside down and many have lost their sense of security and stability.
Nine-year old Andrés who is now living in a church and using a pew as his bed said: "I want to go home, but my mummy says we don’t have a house anymore, that we will have to wait to here until she could build another."
Cóbar said that Plan is providing psychosocial support to address the emotional needs of the children. She also said that Plan is also aiding the long term recovery.
“Our damage and needs assessment report has revealed that local authorities have not been trained in disaster risk management and lack the skills to assume an effective role in emergencies. Our support to this municipality will include the training of the Community Development Councils in child protection and disaster risk management,” she added.
Further details please contact:
Miguel Vargas Corzantes
PR Officer, Plan Guatemala
Landline: (502) 2323 0202 ext. 2001
Mobile: (502) 5698 7565
Regional Media Specialist, Panama
Landline: +507-317-1700 Ext 952
Press Officer, Disasters & Emergencies
Plan, International HQ
Landline Direct: +44 (0)1483 733 227
Global Roaming Mobile: +44 (0) 7720 736 884
• The municipality of San Juan Ostuncalco is located in the Department of Quetzaltenango and the people are Maya-Mam.