September 5 2007
More aid needed for children affected by earthquake
05/09/2007 - Three weeks have passed since an earthquake in Peru killed over 550 people in four large cities on the Peruvian coast. The emergency is however far from over. Thousands of families and children in the areas affected, including rural areas, are sleeping out in the open and the shortage of drinking water and food remains one of the greatest problems.
The precise areas hit by the earthquake were the cities of Cañete (region of Lima), Chincha, Pisco and Ica (region of Ica). The cities most affected are Pisco, Chincha, and Ica, but it has been reported that several villages in department of Lima and Huancavelica city, in the southeast of the country, have also been affected.
The reconstruction process has already begun. Heavy machinery is in the streets, clearing away the wreckage in the dramatically devastated areas. In Pisco, for example, only three, or parts of them, in a block of ten houses are still standing. The rest is bare ground. Local people are walking through the streets and wondering why it happened.
Confused and depressed, a middle-aged man expresses his frustration: "We have lost everything, our houses, our relatives, and the desire to carry on… I wonder what'll come next...". A close friend of his died and the building in which his electronics business was located, in the centre of Pisco, collapsed, destroying all the equipment he used for his work.
The real situation
Three weeks after the disaster, some of the most basic services and amenities have not been restored. Thousands in Pisco, Chincha and Ica have no roof over their heads and no protection from the wind, sun or extreme cold at night. They continue to sleep out in the open and the number of children with respiratory diseases has increased significantly.
Humanitarian aid has arrived, but has not reached all areas hit by the disaster, because the number of villages affected is simply too great: 70% of houses in the three cities affected most have collapsed. The community of Sunampe, in Chincha, for example, has only been given the support of SOS Children's Villages. The area consists of six villages within an area of approximately three kilometres. As in Sunampe, several communes at Pisco, Chincha and Ica urgently need at least three basics: shelter, water, and some food each day.
"Please, can you give my grandson a breakfast parcel, please? He is five," in desperation, an old lady asks a group from SOS Children's Villages who have brought tents to one of the areas affected in the commune of Guadalupe, Ica.
SOS Children's Villages has been in the area since August 17 and has been distributing breakfast to over 500 children each day. The number of children under ten is however too great. So, a kind-hearted colleague turns to the old woman and says: "Hey! Here is some food for your child". The colleague had picked up her own breakfast to give it to the child.
How SOS Children's Villages helps
Around 800 families and about 1,100 children are currently being provided with tents, water, daily food and clothes. In Pisco, help is being given in the communities of Las Palmeras, Santa Cruz, and Nueva Juventud; in Chincha, in the community of Sunampe, and in Ica, in the district of Guadalupe.
SOS Children's Villages has already planned a long-term family strengthening programme. The programme will continue after the emergency is over and is intended to prevent families from breaking up in the long term. The programme, which has the support of the local authorities, is expected to be up and running in the next few days.