Thick mud blocks the way for a family who has been forced to flee their home in Honduras.
Honduras

Tusenvis er hjemløse etter orkanene i Honduras

Et hjem til jul
– Det var virkelig skremmende. Vi dro med oss barna og kom oss unna så fort som mulig, sier Norma Murilla (40). Hun er én av 61.000 honduranere som ble hjemløse etter at de voldsomme orkanene traff regionen i november.

Den ene fulgte den andre, da orkanene Eta og Iota raste gjennom deler av Guatemala, Honduras og Nicaragua. Hele samfunn ble jevnet med jorden.

Flyktninghjelpen er på plass i Honduras, hvor situasjonen stadig forverres. Vi bidrar med hygieneartikler, toalettpapir, masker og antibac, og skal også bistå med gjenoppbygging av infrastruktur.

Det haster å få hjelpen fram.

Norma used to live with her husband and two children in a settlement in la Rivera Hernández in the city of San Pedro Sula in Honduras. Their lives were turned upside down, when hurricanes Eta and Iota hurricanes generated strong rains and floods and covered the family’s house in 20 minutes. Now, Norma and her family have found a temporary shelter inside the Alta Gracia Sánchez school in San Pedro Sula, where she volunteers to assist with food distribution every day.

With they received the hurricane alert, Norma and her family evacuated to her mother's house, but the water and mud also caught up with them there. "People began to shout and my husband only saw one way out: “leave everything behind, we have to go now," he said. Norma is grateful to the fact that the whole family made it out from the floods alive. "If this flood had arrived during the night, we would all have lost our lives," she tells.

"Many have lost their houses, and it's going to take us years to rebuild what we lost. The places we used to work are also destroyed, so now we are unemployed," she said.

"The floods arrived without any warning and with such force that we had no time to pack our things. We basically just grabbed our children and left as quickly as we could. It was a moment filled with terror. When the flood came, the only thing we would do was to leave as quickly as we could.”
“Within this shelter at the school, we have many needs. We need bed covers, beddings, medicines, warm clothes and food. There’s many children and old people here that need extra care.”

“At this moment we have nothing. We have no roof, and we are now effectively homeless. So, what we need now is to gather all our strengths in order to rebuild our homes”.

Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen
Les billedteksten Norma har mistet alt hun eide og må bo på en skole sammen med mange andre. Foto: Christian Jepsen/ Flyktninghjelpen

Vann og gjørme overalt

Da orkanvarselet kom, evakuerte Norma og familien hjem til moren hennes. Men vann og gjørme traff dem der også.

– Noen begynte å rope. Mannen min skjønte at det bare vare en ting å gjøre: «La alt ligge, vi må komme oss vekk nå,» skrek han, forteller Norma.

Til tross for at både hjemmet og alle eiendelene deres er borte, er Norma takknemlig for at hele familien slapp unna vannmassene. – Hvis vannet hadde kommet på natten hadde vi mistet livet alle sammen.

Norma og familien har fått midlertidig husly i et lokalt skolebygg. Der er det ikke nok madrasser til alle, og bygningen er full av mennesker. De sover 15 personer i et klasserom, uten tilstrekkelig avstand for å hindre koronasmitte og med svært lite privatliv.

Alta Gracia Sanchez school in San Pedro Sula has been transformed into a shelter for almost 300 people affected by the floods that followed hurricanes Eta and Iota.  

School chairs were cornered to make room for a few mattresses that are far too few for the number of sheltered people. In many classrooms, at least 15 people sleep without a safe distance to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and with very little privacy.

NRC has provided hygiene items such as soap, toilet paper, masks and antibacterial for adults and children to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the overcrowded temporary shelters. Additionally, NRC is facilitating discussions with each family on how to promote good hygiene habits with frequent handwashing. NRC is also in the process to support 19 shelter for families affected be the recent hurricanes with infrastructure improvements such hand washing stations, temporary divisions and disinfection devices.

Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen
Les billedteksten Alta Gracia Sánchez skolen i Pedro Sula. Skolen der Norma og familien nå overnatter. Foto: Christian Jepsen/ Flyktninghjelpen

– Vi trenger madrasser, medisiner, varme klær og mat. Mange barn og eldre her trenger i tillegg ekstra hjelp, sier Norma.

Det var ikke bare boliger som ble ødelagt av orkanene. Sykehus, skoler, arbeidsplasser og veier ble også rammet. Matmangelen er enorm, og Norma jobber nå frivillig med å dele ut mat.

– For øyeblikket har vi ingenting. Vi kommer til å måtte samle alle krefter vi har for å gjenoppbygge hjemmene våre, sier hun.

Eta and Iota storms have destroyed houses, harvests and increased existing food insecurity, as well as exacerbated needs for protection, shelter, health and WASH services. According to the United Nations, 8 million people would have required assistance in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala as a result of the pandemic. The number of people with humanitarian needs increased dramatically as a result of storms.

With both hurricanes the water reached high levels overflowding rivers and flooding entire communities. As the water goes back, it let thick mud inside the lucky houses that are still standing, in contrast many houses has disappeared and also many of the streets are blocked.

After the Eta emergency, many tried to go back and clean their houses, but with the second hurrican, the consequences have worsened and many have no the chance to rebuilt what they lost. Everyday many people affected try to  cross mud and water to see what can be rescuble but this encrease the risk of respiratory affections.

Photo: NRC/Marcela Olarte
Les billedteksten Folk sliter med å fjerne den tykke gjørmen fra hjemmene sine. Foto: Christian Jepsen/ Flyktninghjelpen

Sover på pappesker

De som ikke har fått plass på skolene sover i veikanten eller ved bensinstasjoner. Andre overnatter under broer, og har laget telt av plast og papp for å få litt ly og privatliv. Utenfor de midlertidige boligene kan man se et virvar av tørkesnorer, med tøy som aldri ser ut til å bli tørt.

I nærheten av et av de verst rammede områdene strekker teltleiren seg kilometer langs veien. Derfra har man utsikt til de lavereliggende nabolagene som er fullstendig ødelagt av en tsunami av gjørme.

Along the highways leading into the city of San Pedro Sula, hundreds of families displaced by the devastating floods caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota, have sat up improvised camps with sticks and plastic sheets.  Others sleep under bridges inside the city – some in tents while others have tied together pieces of plastic and cardboard to secure a minimum of privacy and protection. 

The new roadside camp continues kilometer after kilometer as you drive out of San Pedro Sula in the direction of one of the worst hit areas around the city of La Lima: On one side of the road the lower-lying neighborhoods are a mess of mud and debris, while the other, higher situated side have now been converted to an uncomfortable campsite for families whose homes have been ruined by a tsunami of mud.

A few black or blue plastic sheets are coving the few belongings that the families managed to take with them or have sourced after their escape. Outside, intricate webs of strings are holding the families’ clothes that never seem to get dry. In a gas station on the road between San Pedro Sula and La Lima, a dozen families have sat up camp and living from day to day, while their children live dangerously between the cars that are all around them on the highway and in the gas station. Almost no one are wearing any masks to protect themselves against the risks of Covid-19. Luxuries such as mattresses are a thing of the past and now replaced with pieces of cardboard. The only assistance that the families at the gas station have received are a daily meal supplied by church organisations.

The people at the gas station are grateful for the assistance they receive from churches and passersby. "The people are helping the people," is a mantra often repeated. But what they really hope for is a durable solution coming from the national authorities.

The number of people in this situation is unknown. 

Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen
Les billedteksten Et provisorisk telt satt opp langs motorveien som fører inn til San Pedro Sula. Foto: Christian Jepsen/ Flyktninghjelpen

Marlon (32), hans gravide kone og deres ett-år gamle datter kom seg raskt av gårde, så snart de ble advart om vannmassene som var på vei.

– Jeg forsøkte å samle sammen noen få ting, men det var for sent. Regnet var voldsomt. Den første natten sov vi utenfor en bygning, og vi hadde ikke noe å spise, sier Marlon. – Vi klarte å få med oss litt klær til datteren min, men min kone og jeg hadde bare det vi gikk i. Regnet øste ned, og vi har bodd på gaten siden.

Marlon and his family lost all their possessions in the floods caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota that made landfall in Honduras in November 2020. Together with his wife and one-year-old daughter, Marlon made a quick escape from their neighborhood in Jerusalem nearby the large city of San Pedro Sula. 

They are squatting on the grounds of a gas station in La Lima municipality alongside many other families in the same situation. A few plastic sheets are coving the clothes that have been donated by people passing by the gas station. Luxuries such as mattresses are a thing of the past and now replaced with pieces of cardboard, but church organisations are providing a daily meal to the displaced families at the gas station. 

"We didn’t manage to get anything out of our house, when we received the warning about the incoming flood. I tried to get a few items with us, but it was too late, and the rain was very strong,” Marlon told.

“The first night, we slept outside a building without having any food. We managed to bring some clothes for my daughter, but my wife and myself only had what we were wearing. That first night, the rain poured down on us and we have been living on the streets since then.”

With the help of other people, we made this plastic roof which has helped us a bit. Today, a woman brought us fruits for my daughter. Before we moved into this shelter, we got soaking wet from the rain, which especially affected my young daughter and my wife, who has health problems and is pregnant at the same time.”

My wife has suffered from epilepsy since she was seven years old. Yesterday she had a seizure because she took the wrong medicine, so now she is dizzy and cannot get up by herself.

Milagros [miracles] is my one-year old daughter’s name. We choose this name because it is what she is: we did not know that my wife was pregnant, she had a heart attack and was in a coma for three days, then we found out that she was 8 weeks pregnant and the doctors said my wife was not going to wake up. We prayed and the girl is here safe and sound".

Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen
Les billedteksten Marlon med sin ett-år gamle datter, Milagros, i det provisoriske teltet deres. Foto: Christian Jepsen/ Flyktninghjelpen

Familien har klart å bygge seg et plastikktak, og med hjelp fra forbipasserende og religiøse organisasjoner har de fått mat til datteren. Marlons kone har epilepsi og har desperat behov for helsehjelp.

Orkanene traff akkurat da regionen kjempet mot koronapandemien. Mangelen på munnbind, skadene på sykehusene og overbefolkning i de midlertidige bostedene gjør det enda vanskeligere å bekjempe pandemien.

Familiene som har mistet hjemmene sine i orkanene har et umiddelbart behov for et trygt og verdig sted å bo.

Fakta om den humanitære situasjonen:
  • 3,8 millioner mennesker i Honduras har blitt rammet av orkanene Eta og Iota. 61.000 hjem har blitt ødelagt, 95.000 mennesker bor fortsatt i nødboliger, en måned etter orkanene. Kommunikasjon og veiforbindelse til anslagsvis 330.000 mennesker er brutt.
  • I Guatemala har 1,7 millioner mennesker blitt rammet, og 79.000 hjem er ødelagt.
  • Før koronapandemien vurderte FN at 5,2 millioner mennesker i Honduras, El Salvador og Guatemala hadde behov for humanitær bistand, på grunn av vold, matmangel og utrygge bo-områder.
  • Ved orkansesongens slutt, er 2020-sesongen den mest aktive noensinne registrert. 30 navngitte stormer, inkludert 13 ordinære og 6 ekstremt kraftige orkaner, ifølge OCHAs Humanitarian Snapshot pr 4. desember.
  • Kriminelle gjenger har allerede begynt å utnytte situasjonen. De blokkerer bistandsorganisasjonenes tilgang til områder, og driver utpressing av folk som forsøker å returnere til hjemmene sine.
  • Det dannes stadig lange tog av kvinner, menn og barn som forsøker å flykte fra regionen, da situasjonen der forverres. Det er stor risiko for at smitte av både Covid-19 og andre sykdommer, som denguefeber, vil spre seg.
  • I 1998 kom verden Honduras og Nicaragua til redning, etter orkanen Mitch. Nå, 22 år senere, har orkanene Eta og Iota skapt lignende ødeleggelser. Så langt har regionen blitt ignorert av det internasjonale samfunnet.

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