|© UNICEF Peru/2004|
|Road blocked by approximately 40cm of snow.|
LIMA, 25 July 2004 – Freezing temperatures in Peru have killed more than 60 children, according to reports. Peruvian authorities are still struggling to deliver supplies to isolated mountain regions in southern and central Peru, where a cold wave has killed dozens of people.
The full extent of the cold weather’s effects is still not known. UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP) have joined forces to conduct an assessment mission in order to gather essential information about the impact of the weather.
The latest information indicates that more than 80,000 families have been impacted by the severe cold. It is believed that around 60 children have died from acute respiratory infections. Access to the affected areas continues to be difficult due to precarious road conditions and high altitudes (4,000 metres above sea level).
There have also been major losses of livestock. Thousands of llamas, sheep and cows – whose meat, milk and wool sustain the indigenous communities in Peru’s Andean highlands – have frozen to death.
|© UNICEF Peru/2004|
|Family from the affected zone.|
Best available estimates indicate that the weather has killed more than 75,000 farm animals, destroyed more than 300,000 hectares of food crops, and damaged an additional 347,000 hectares of crops. Most of the inhabitants of the affected areas are poor peasants eking out a living from llama and alpaca herds and subsistence farming.
The snow has mostly tapered off, but freezing temperatures plunging to minus 22 degrees Celsius have persisted, causing many children and elderly people to contract pneumonia and bronchitis, health officials said. According to information from government offices, more than 400,000 cases of pneumonia have been reported.
The situation could worsen drastically as the coldest winter temperatures usually occur around August or September.
UNICEF is concerned that many children from the affected zones don’t have warm clothes or enough food. Many are unable to attend school. UNICEF continues working with communities to help provide warm clothing, blankets and basic medicines.