UK should lead the international community in driving greater spending to protect children

World Vision has mobilised its rapid response teams to assess the extent of yesterday’s deadly volcanic eruption in Guatemala as the aid agency gears to provide urgent assistance to the most affected.

Hundreds of personnel from the police, aid workers and military have been deployed, organising evacuations and setting up temporary shelters. Rescuers are still trying to reach a number of villages and the death toll is expected to rise.

So far 25 people have been reported dead, over 3,000 evacuated; and scores hospitalised.

Jess Dinstl, World Vision UK’s emergency response manager said: “We are concerned by reports that children are among the dead. Our colleagues on the ground say that at least 20 people, including 12 children, have been hospitalised so far while the death toll is expected to rise.

“World Vision has also activated a rapid response team to establish how best we can support the affected whom we understand will be in their thousands. At the moment we are monitoring the situation to determine the status of families within areas we work in. Fuego has long been known to be one of Latin America's most active volcanoes but this is Guatemala's deadliest such event since 1902, when an eruption of the Santa Maria volcano killed thousands of people,” she added.

World Vision is also coordinating with the National System for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) to provide timely assistance to those in need.

The eruption has affected more than 1.7 million people, including 3,100 who were evacuated, according to CONRED.

The intensity of the eruption spewed rocks, ash and lava for more than 25 kilometres in villages across the country, destroying homes, crops and communication routes.

The La Aurora international airport, in Guatemala City, has also been closed due to the fall of fine ash. Meanwhile, authorities have urged people living near the volcano to evacuate immediately, as more eruptions are feared.

A mother and her children sit after fleeing violence

 

The UK must do more to protect children as less than £1 per child globally is spent to prevent violence, World Vision warns.

Reacting to announcements of a new aid offer by International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt this morning, World Vision UK raised concerns that children have not been made a primary focus.

Sarah Pickwick, senior conflict adviser at World Vision UK, said: “Any UK aid, should prioritise the most vulnerable children and their needs. This is a win-win approach to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensures no one is left behind.

“We know that around 535 million children – a quarter of the world’s child population - are currently living in fragile and conflict-affected states.

“Yet, globally, less than 1 per cent of the official development assistance (ODA) - an average of £ 0.46 per child - is spent on ending violence against children.

“This means children in fragile states are deprived of the normal protection of community, school and family and are at serious risk of violence and abuse at the hands of slavers, traffickers, armed groups and all those who would exploit them,” Pickwick continued.