As heavy rains have hit Central American countries in the last few days, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns about the effects of climate change on the humanitarian crises already affecting millions in the region.
Meg Galas, Director for Northern Central America at the IRC, said: “Central American countries are already tangibly impacted by climate change, and the back-to-back hurricanes in 2020 are a strong example: more than 3.4 million people were left in urgent need of aid in Honduras alone, and the country has not been able to fully recover. People still need assistance to rebuild their homes and their lives. Climate change is worsening ongoing humanitarian crises. Climate change contributed directly to the crisis of 1.5 million internally displaced people in Central America in 2020 and it is a direct cause of the economic decline and food insecurity. In 2021, more than 15 million Central Americans experienced hunger“.
“As the needs of families in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador continue to grow due to climate change, increased support from the international community is essential to sustain an expanded humanitarian response that helps people survive, recover and rebuild their lives at home.”
Honduras–where the heavy rains have affected at least 200 families after their houses collapsed–was identified by the IRC as one of the 20 countries worldwide at the highest risk of experiencing a deterioration in their humanitarian crises over 2022. As the heavy rains are expected to continue during the next few days, the authorities have already declared the maximum level of alert for at least nine municipalities.
When natural disasters hit, they can bring new humanitarian crises with them or worsen pre-existing ones, leaving people in urgent need of aid. Earlier this year, the IRC issued a set of recommendations to address the humanitarian crises in Latin America, including that:
- Donors and host states agree to concrete commitments on financing, as well as responsibility sharing, and a framework for the harmonization of policies.
- International financial institutions incorporate lessons learned from multilaterally-supported and funded compact initiatives in humanitarian and protection emergencies around the world into the responses in Latin America.
- Non-U.S. donors are engaged to rethink the approach to the humanitarian response in Latin America.