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Swiss aid benefits 1.2 million Hurricane Mitch victims

Switzerland’s emergency and reconstruction aid for the victims of last year’s Hurricane Mitch benefitted 1.2 million people in over 170 villages, the authorities said Monday.

This content was published on November 1, 1999 - 13:31

Switzerland’s emergency and reconstruction aid for the victims of last year’s Hurricane Mitch benefitted 1.2 million people in over 170 villages, the authorities said Monday.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation said that 95 projects were put in place swiftly to benefit those most in need in the Central American countries.

The bulk of the support – which also came from NGOs and charities – went to Honduras and Nicaragua, the two worst affected countries. A lesser number of aid projects were also set up in Guatemala and El Salvador.

Despite massive international aid, the four countries are still reeling from the effects of the October 1998 hurricane, which killed at least 8,500 people and made 2 million others homeless.

Mitch was one of the most destructive Atlantic hurricanes, causing direct and indirect damages estimated at $6 billion.

In all, about 3.4 million people – which equals 10.9 percent of the region's population – were affected by Mitch. More than half of them were children under five.

Billions of dollars in international aid, including the labour of thousands of U.S. troops, have helped rebuild roads and bridges, schools, hospitals and houses.

Many people, however, were forced to relocate to government-sponsored housing projects, often finding themselves with no work and means of paying bus fares or other basic expenditures.

The U.N. World Food Programme sounded the alarm last month and appealed to donors to make good on aid pledges. The Rome-based food agency said it received only 32 percent of pledged donor funding for a $72million food-for-work rebuilding campaign intended to help 1.1 million people in the four countries.

From staff and wire reports.

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