The Government of Peru has reported upwards of 1,000 injuries from last Wednesday’s devastating 7.9 earthquake. In addition to the destruction of more than 37,000 homes, several dozen schools, health centers, and hospitals have been severely damaged. Many areas still lack basic needs such as electricity, clean water, and access to communications due to the earthquake. The hardest hit areas are Pisco, Chincha Alta, and Ica and surrounding areas, about 200 miles southeast of Lima, the capital of Peru.
In addition, the local cemetery was completed destroyed, exposing coffins and bodies, and leaving residents vulnerable to a serious potential health risk.
In Lima, Peru’s capital, CHF International is in close contact with the Government of Peru, through the National Institute of Civil Defense (INDECI), the United Nations (UN), and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) to coordinate relief efforts on the ground. The CHF Emergency Response Team (CERT) is on the ground working to assess damage, and has reported total destruction of at least 70% of houses. The team has also found that communities in some districts of Ica, such as San José de los Molinos, have yet to receive any emergency assistance. In responding, CERT will address the needs of those communities that have been left most vulnerable by the damage.
One Afro-Peruvian community of 7,000 people, for example, is suffering its second catastrophe in less than a decade:
“…. in January 1999, flooding washed away our district. Then, like today, relief assistance came late…we are Afro-Peruvian communities, and still we suffer from discrimination,” said Guillermo Falcon, leader of a local NGO called Siempre Amigos Buenos y Unidos (SABU, or “Always Good and United Friends”). SABU has been collaborating with the CERT team during the field assessment.
“Our houses were [completely damaged]. Those that still stand will need to get demolished. We are all small producers; we don’t generate much, we hope somebody will help us to get back on our feet again,” Mr. Falcon added.
Mrs. Rosa Acuña, who lives with her elder parents and brother, is one of the residents who lost her house. “We keep our faith in God and are sure that somebody will help us,” she stated.
Auris Carmona’s house was also destroyed. Today, her 11 family members are apart; they’ve been assigned to different public shelters.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported yesterday that 18,462 people have settled in community shelters where basic assistance is being provided. However, many of the affected families have decided to stay on their property to try and re-build their homes from the debris.
In the region, one of the most challenging barriers to relief efforts is difficult road conditions. Many parts of the Pan-American Highway were severely damaged in the quake, and road conditions in more remote areas are still not fully known, leaving open the possibility that many isolated affected communities have not yet been reached.
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