Responding to Hurricane Mitch

Aid from Anglicans is reaching Central Americans whose lives have been shattered by floods and mudslides in the wake of Hurricane Mitch. Donations for “Hurricane Mitch Response” have enabled The Primateís World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) to support relief efforts with a total of $25,000 so far.

“Response to the needs in the Central American countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala will increase as we receive donations designated for immediate relief and rehabilitation work.” says Elsa Musa, PWRDF Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, in a press relese yesterday. “The scale of the tragedy is overwhelming and much greater support is needed now–and for many months and years to come.”

Up to 60% of roads, bridges, communications, homes and other buildings have been destroyed. Entire communities and regions are cut off and isolated. Drinking water and food supplies are scare in many areas. Agricultural crops and farmland, the primary sources of income, have been completely destroyed. Infectious diseases are on the rise and recovery is expected to take years.

In Honduras, the Christian Commission for Development (CCD) has so far managed to send three helicopters filled with food to areas cut off by flooding. Food is also being transported food by truck to the end of broken highways and then carried on backs and by mule to isolated communities. CCD is also distributing clothing, medicines, hygiene items, shelter materials, potable water, cooking equipment, tools and other relief aid to some 110,000 people throughout the Honduras region.

“CCD is looking for volunteers who speak Spanish, are able to work in a stressful environment, are willing to work as part of a team, are sponsored by an ecumenical or church agency and can help for one to three months,” Musa says. “There is an urgent need for medical personnel experienced in post trauma work, as well as civil engineers to help begin reconstruction of community infrastructure in rural villages.”

PWRDF’s Partner Christian Medical Action (CMA), the organization of Evangelical Churches in Nicaragua (CEPAD), and other church based, non-governmental organizations in Nicaragua are providing potable water, mosquito netting, food, clothing, medicine and other relief items to approximately 120,000.

Church leaders in Central America have appealed to international financial institutions to cancel their countries’ foreign debt. Honduran and Nicaraguan payments on international debts consume one-third of their national budgets. “If we’re going to survive and rebuild, we’ve got to start off with complete forgiveness of the debt,” said Noemi Espinoza, executive president of the CCD in Honduras.

The links between debt burden and the present emergency situation are apparent in the lack of infrastructure and social services to deliver relief and promote rehabilitation.

Interested in keeping up-to-date on news, opinion, events and resources from the Anglican Church of Canada? Sign up for our email alerts .