April 18 2016

SOS Children's Villages to help in Ecuador earthquake recovery

Thousands of people need shelter, blankets, water and food, following 7.8 magnitude quake. SOS Children's Villages in Ecuador are unharmed and gearing up to help victims.

All children and co-workers at SOS Children’s Villages were unhurt and there were no reports of major structural damage to SOS homes or properties following a weekend earthquake in Ecuador.
The magnitude 7.8 quake struck the country’s coastal regions on 16 April, killing more than 270 people and injuring more than 2,500. The quake destroyed buildings, damaged electricity and other infrastructure, leaving thousands of people in need of shelter. The hardest hit provinces were Manabi and Esmeralda.

Gontran Pelissier, National Director of SOS Ecuador, said in an emergency report that there is an immediate need for electricity generators, safe drinking water, blankets, non-perishable food and toys in the most-affected areas, including central coastal communities.

Shock and tears in the Tarqui neighbourhood of Manta, Ecuador, following the earthquake. Photographer: Reuters

In the coastal town of Pedernales, according to Mr Pelissier, people are “desperate and ask for help”. There is no electricity and “telecommunications are affected, and it is not easy to communicate either by land lines or mobile phones. Water service is scarce. The inhabitants of this small coastal town continue to look for their relatives under the rubble.”

The government activated its child protection team and guidelines to ensure that all children in affected communities are accompanied and have care.
Andreas Papp, International Director of Emergency Response for SOS Children's Villages, said the organisation was still evaluating needs but was planning to provide food, water and shelter to affected families in the communities where SOS Children’s Villages works.

As in all emergency response activities, the organisation will be working to reunite children with their families and to care for children who are unaccompanied or separated from family.

SOS child friendly spaces that offer emotional support, basic medical care, and other services for children and parents, may also be opened, where needed. SOS Children's Villages will work with other organisations and partners to coordinate services.
“The initial assessment by SOS Ecuador shows there is an urgent need to provide humanitarian assistance to children and their families in the communities hardest hit by the earthquake”, Mr Papp said.

“While we are very fortunate that no SOS families or villages suffered loss or serious damage, SOS Children’s Villages is well positioned – in the coastal areas most affected by the earthquake and across the country – to respond quickly to protect other children and support families who are in need of help.”

There are six SOS Children's Villages communities in Ecuador, including 11 SOS Social Centres. Communities near the earthquake's epicentre are among the poorest.
 Read more about SOS Children's Villages' work in Ecuador.