A massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated Ecuador on April 16, 2016, causing hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, and significant damage to homes, buildings, and infrastructure. The United Nations is supporting the Government of Ecuador’s response to the earthquake, which was the largest to strike the region in decades.
As the death toll continues to rise in the wake of the disaster, UN humanitarian agencies have deployed additional aid to support the government’s relief efforts. Stephen O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, is visiting Ecuador and has said: “The United Nations and our humanitarian partners stand ready to support the people and the authorities with any expertise and support they may need.”
The United Nations humanitarian system is urgently responding to the crisis:
- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) deployed a Disaster and Assessment Coordination Team to assist response efforts. On April 21, Under-Secretary-General O’Brien released $7 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support aid relief in the country, and the UN and partners have appealed for US $72.7 million to support “life-saving assistance, protection services, and early recovery support” over the next three months.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) deployed health experts and a mobile medical emergency team.
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) called for $1million to meet immediate needs of affected children. UNICEF has also delivered 20,000 water purification tablets to the area of Pedernales.
- The World Food Program (WFP) will provide food assistance to 5,000 families, about 20,000 people.
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is “readying preparations for a major aid airlift to help people displaced” by the disaster. The first UNHCR airlift will provide approximately 900 tents, plastic sheets, 15,000 sleeping mats, kitchen sets, and 18,000 repellant-impregnated mosquito nets.
Japan was also stuck by devastating earthquakes on April 14 and 16, killing over 40 people and displacing over 110,000 from their homes. In an official statement, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson recognized Japan’s generosity in supporting humanitarian responses in many parts of the world and stated that the UN stands ready to provide any assistance necessary to Japan.
How You Can Help
Additionally, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) collects donations year-round so there is a pool of money available to respond quickly to disasters, such as earthquakes. You can donate to CERF to help the UN provide immediate relief to people in their time of need.