Israeli humanitarian-aid agency IsraAID has launched an emergency response in Guatemala following Tropical Storm Eta, which has killed more than 150 people and affected the lives of some 200,000 residents of the Central American country.

IsraAID’s locally based team arrived in Alta Verapaz, among the worst-affected areas, on Nov. 9. They immediately began offering psychological first aid, medical support, relief items, hygiene kits and water filters.

IsraAID has had a permanent team on the ground in Guatemala since the 2018 Volcán de Fuego eruption, which caused significant damage across the southern area of Escuintla.

This year, IsraAID Guatemala has provided guidance on psychosocial support and resilience to Guatemalan households in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with hygiene promotion and food distributions for vulnerable communities.

Eta first made landfall in neighboring Nicaragua on Nov. 3, before moving slowly throughout the region, bringing heavy rains, flooding and mudslides. Tens of thousands were evacuated from their homes, and more than 7,000 are in temporary shelters.

“Alongside its immediate emergency response, IsraAID’s team will perform a rapid needs assessment, focused on recovery needs in affected communities,” said CEO Yotam Polizer.

“Amid the current global pandemic, the recent storm creates a double disaster for Guatemalans. For the 7,125 displaced persons that have been sheltered in 86 centers, maintaining social distancing and regularly washing hands can be challenging,” he said. “Our team will provide hygiene kits and other sanitation supplies to minimize the spread of the virus.”

This article was first published by Israel21c.

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