Ecuador earthquake: international appeal falls short of target

9 May 16

Ecuador’s appeal for aid following last month’s devastating earthquake has received only 12% of the funds requested to help the country as it struggles to respond.


Rescue workers at the scene of a collapsed house following the earthquake in Ecuador

Rescue workers at the scene of a collapsed house following the earthquake in Ecuador

A week after the 7.8 magnitude quake shook the Latin American country, causing wide-spread destruction worth billions of dollars and killing hundreds of people, the government and the United Nations launched an urgent appeal for $72.7m from the international community.

Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the UN’s humanitarian office, explained that the emergency appeal is the “best, most immediate, practical, effective and coordinated way” to stand in solidarity with those affected.

However to date, donors have reported raising only $8.6m. A further $6.5m has been contributed outside of this specific appeal, bringing the total to $15.1m – still far short of what is needed.

The death toll for the earthquake has risen to more than 600, while some 720,000 are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa estimated reconstruction costs would run into the billions and that the country’s already struggling economy will be sent back into recession, as 2-3 percentage points are knocked off GDP.

Homes, roads and public infrastructure were razed by the strong quake. Many Ecuadorians are reliant on aid workers for shelter and safe drinking water.

International lenders like the World Bank immediately opened a line of credit worth $600m to help the country respond, and Correa announced one-off taxes, asset sales and other financial measures in order to foot the billion-dollar bill.

But the response from other international donors has been poor, with some of the world’s biggest sources of aid not reporting having offered any funds whatsoever.

Those that have responded to Ecuador’s appeal include the United Nations ($7.5m), the US ($2.8m), Canada ($1.5m), Sweden ($1.3) and Russia, Italy and Switzerland that all contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Private donors and Germany have also raised just under $60,000 each.

“We thank those countries who have responded to our appeal and call on others to do the same,” said Laerke. 

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