Peru: Humanitarian Aid continues during state of Emergency in Peru

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(Official Press Releaselink-)

Cold Wave DREF Bulletin no. MDRPE002

The Federation’s mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world’s largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in 185 countries.

In Brief

This DREF Bulletin is being issued based on the situation described below reflecting the information available at this time. CHF 18,000 (USD 14,634 or EUR 10,909) was allocated from the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 29 June 2007 to respond to the most urgent needs of the affected population.

This operation is expected to be implemented over 3 months, and will be completed by 29 September 2007; a Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 29 December 2007). Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.

This operation is aligned with the International Federation’s Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation’s mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

– Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

– Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

– Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the mosturgent situations of vulnerability.

– Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Background and current situation

In the high Andean regions of central and southern Peru, the winter season started in June with an abrupt change of temperature which has fallen to a low of -25°C. On 15 June 2007, the Peruvian government declared through the Supreme Decree Nº 050-2007-PCM, a state of emergency for a period of 60 days in the following 13 departments in the country: Ayacucho, Apurimac, Arequipa, Cajamarca, Cusco, Junín, Huánuco, Huancavelica, Loreto, Moquegua, Pasco, Puno and Tacna, Arequipa, Cusco, Huancavelica, Moquegua and Puno.

Six days later, on 21 June 2007, through the Supreme Decree (S.D) N º 018-2007-PCM, urgent measures were established for the departments affected by extreme frosts and the anticipation of a harsh cold front in the coming days. The same day, through the S.D. N º 052-2007-PCM, the government declared an elevated State of Emergency as a result of low temperatures in the Departments of Puno, Tacna, Arequipa, Moquegua, Apurímac, Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica, Junín and Pasco for a period of sixty (60) days with the request for immediate actions seeking the reduction and minimization of the existing risks, in line with that established in the former S.D N ° 50-2007-PCM.

The Peruvian President, who is currently visiting the most affected areas due to the extremely low temperatures, has qualified the situation as "dramatic" and has predicted that in the coming weeks, more than two million Peruvians “are going to suffer from extreme temperatures lower than minus fifteen degrees Celsius”.

Many children living in these poor regions of the country are malnourished and have been the main victims of the severe cold wave. Official reports state that 48 children under five years of age have died due to pneumonia caused by the cold wave, and more than 200.000 Peruvians are currently being affected by this emergency.

Schools in the departments of Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Junín and Arequipa have modified their schedules in an attempt to avoid exposing the children to the harsh weather during the coldest hours of the day. At the same time, the government is considering the temporary evacuation of the population living above 4,000 meters from sea level, with the purpose of protecting them from the climatic inclemency.

Donations of medicine for acute respiratory infections are being coordinated by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture is also preparing the donation of animal shelters and forage in order to protect the main livelihood of affected populations. In addition, more than 3,000 young health professionals are being sent to the most affected areas

The agricultural sector has been severely affected by these extreme temperatures as well since crops have been covered by snow. The latest assessments show agricultural losses of 54,248 hectares, leaving another 91,308 affected. In addition, the death toll of farm animals, which represent a large portion of the income of residents of the affected regions, continues to increase. To date however, no official consolidated figures exist, regarding the degree of damage.

The Government has approved the transfer of over USD 2 million to the different Ministries to assist families with clothes, blankets and food where farms and crops have been most affected; the National Ministers’ Council has agreed to create a fund to compensate the farmers who have suffered losses of cattle.

Governmental and private campaigns have been launched to encourage the population to respond to this emergency. On June 12, the Head of the National Civil Defence (INDECI) announced the initiation of the "Well prepared for the cold” (“Ante el frío, mejor preparados”) campaign, which consists of public service announcements and the distribution of posters on prevention measures. The announcement will be sent out in both Spanish and Quechua within the most high risk, affected zones.

The following donations are being prioritized:

– Warm clothes: blankets, coats, jackets, mattress, polar clothes, gloves and scarves.

– Non perishable food items – packed and sealed – such as canned fish and stews, pasta, milk, and sugar.

– Medicines: Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, anti-cough, among others.

According to the latest reports, the National Civil Defence (INDECI) has distributed 53,748 blankets and 102,278 kg of clothes; 271.541 Peruvians have received humanitarian assistance since the start of the low temperatures.

The National Service of Meteorology and Hydrology (SENAMHI) has announced that the cold front will continue until September and will be more severe than past years. The lowest temperatures are expected for July and the following recommendations have been made to the exposed population:

a) To take the needed precautions for crops and to avoid keeping animals in the open air, in order to avoid losses caused by the frost.

b) To ensure adequate hydration of the whole body, especially the face and the hands, since these are the most exposed body parts to low temperatures.

c) To avoid sudden temperature changes and to cover the head, face and mouth in order to avoid the entry of cold air into the lungs.

d) To use thermal and impermeable clothes to cover the whole body, dean including gloves and caps.

e) To protect and to take care of elders and children so as to not expose them to the low temperatures.

f) To protect the feet with warm socks and high impermeable footwear.

g) To sleep with several blankets.

h) To consume fruits, fresh vegetables, sugar, sweets and fats to increase the capacity of resistance to the cold.

i) To take warm drinks and vitamin C.

j) To check and fit roofs, windows and doors.

k) To remain inside the house and to go out only if necessary.

l) To avoid the use of the kitchen as a bedroom, mainly for children under the age of five, with the aim to diminish the exposure to the smoke.

m) In case of emergency, go to the temporary shelters enabled by the authorities.

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