AMERICA/GUATEMALA - “The main concern now is reconstruction because so many people have lost their homes and the fields which provide their livelihood” says Archbishop Víctor Hugo Martines

Thursday, 20 October 2005

Quetzaltenango (Fides Service) - Over two weeks have past since the fury of Hurricane Stan swept Guatemala leaving destruction and death in its wake. According to the local press and national Red Cross organisation many villages are still isolated and consequently have not yet received humanitarian aid; “remote villages are difficult to reach. In some places food is running out. In San Marcos 45 communities are isolated, 23 in Sololá, 9 in Sacatepéquez, 10 in Retalhuleu, 4 on Quetzaltenango, 5 in Escuintla, 2 on the frontier with Mexico and at least 2 in Chimaltenango”.
The government Commission for Minors and Families estimates that at least 2,200 children lost either mother or father and 300 children lost both parents. Besides health problems due to malnutrition, lack of clean water, children are also in danger of losing the school year because at least 772 schools were devastated, 161 are being used as shelters, 380 suffered partial damage.
Archbishop Víctor Hugo Martines of Los Altos Quetzaltenango-Totonicapán expressed gratitude for generous national and international solidarity in aid of the victims, but he says now help is needed to “rebuild the country”. In fact the Archbishop explained besides ruined structures, “seriously damaged, roads, bridges, telephone and electricity services the most alarming effect of the hurricane was that families lost their homes, the fields which were their livelihood and harvests of maize, beans, rice and vegetables: in brief, everything a family needs to live and work with dignity”. (RZ) (Agenzia Fides 20/10/2005, righe 23, parole 330)