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Red Cross Helping Survivors of Floods in South America

Heavy rains over the past few months have produced severe flooding and landslides in several countries in South America, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and most recently Peru.

The severe weather, part of meteorological phenomenon known as La Niña which also has brought droughts to Paraguay, damaged crops and roads across the region, leaving many communities isolated. It has seriously affected the livelihoods of thousands of people living in mostly rural communities and increased precipitation has caused an escalation in epidemic risk for disease.

To respond to these humanitarian needs the global Red Cross network, in cooperation with local governments, is providing disaster relief assistance in the form of food parcels, hygiene kits, and mosquito nets to some 56,000 people throughout the region.

On March 29th, three-quarters of Peru’s departments (states) declared a state of emergency. The Peruvian Red Cross is helping people in the most affected department of Loreto with locally purchased relief items, access to safe water, disease prevention efforts and activities to improve conditions in evacuation centers.

A child watches the flood from inside his home in General Diaz, 260 km northeast of Asuncion, as Paraguayan Chaco is flooded by the waters of the Rio Pilcomayo April 14, 2012. Paraguay's government declared a state of emergency in the affected area. Picture taken April 14, 2012. Courtesy of REUTERS/Chistian Nunez

The American Red Cross has committed $220,000 in the past two months to efforts in multiple countries, including $100,000 committed to the Peruvian Red Cross this week. Additionally, the American Red Cross is providing a technical expert to assist the Peruvian Red Cross with the distribution of relief items.

Milagros Lopez Marreros, Regional Disaster Coordinator for the American Red Cross in Lima, Peru has been working closely with the Peruvian Red Cross.

“The American Red Cross, hand in hand with the Peruvian Red Cross and other members of the global Red Cross network are acting on behalf of the thousands of families affected by floods caused by this historical rise in the Amazon river,” Marreros said. “We are working quickly with our partners to minimize impacts and respond to the emergency needs of vulnerable people affected by this catastrophic flooding.”

The American Red Cross is monitoring the situation in South America and will continue to provide support in partnership with local Red Cross societies in those countries.