Top UN relief official heads to Guatemala for regional meeting on hurricanes
Along with officials from relief agencies and the Guatemalan Government, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland will help develop a set of actions meant to strengthen hurricane preparation and response systems at the local, national and regional levels, OCHA said.Meteorological experts say the upcoming hurricane season could be as violent as the record-breaking season of 2005, which recorded 27 tropical storms, including 15 that became hurricanes. The set of storms affected 3.6 million people in the nine countries – Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic – which are attending the Guatemala workshop and meeting being held in Guatemala City.The number of people impacted by the 2005 storms was a dramatic jump from 2004, when only 14,400 persons suffered. In Guatemala, tropical storm Stan wreaked economic losses of $983 million, equal to 3.4 per cent of the Latin American nation’s 2004 gross national product.Mr. Egeland will participate in the high-level meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, and then travel on Friday to San Marcos La Laguna to glean first-hand information on the relief projects carried out by UN agencies in coordination with the Guatemalan Government. He will also meet with survivors of the tropical storm from the Lake Atitlan area.The meeting is being organized by the Centre for Coordination for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America, the Executive Secretary of the National Coordination for the Reduction of Disasters, the Foreign Ministry of Guatemala and the United Nations.