Briefing notes

Colombia: Floods and Mudslides in Mocoa
Created: 11/04/2017 +

Overview

130mm of rain fell in the city of Mocoa in southwest Colombia between 23:00 on 31 March and 01:00 on 1 April local time (between 05:00 and 07:00 GMT), causing the flooding of the Mocoa, Mulato, and Sangoyaco Rivers, and several mudslides throughout Mocoa (Sky News 02/04/2017).  

At least 254 people have died, 200 were injured, 200 remain missing, and around 1,200 have been affected by the floods (Floodlist 02/04/2017 ; ABC 02/04/2017). 17 neighbourhoods of Mocoa have been affected (in the area shown on the map below). Areas in southern Mocoa have been the hardest hit: San Miguel (which may have been completely destroyed), Los Laureles, San Fernando, and El Progreso (Colombia Reports 01/04/2017).  
 

Latina America and Caribbean: Zika Virus Epidemic
Created: 18/03/2016 +

Overview

The Zika virus epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean is most affecting Brazil, with over one million cases estimated. Colombia reports over 18,000 confirmed and 2,000 suspected cases and anticipates over 650,000. El Salvador reports over 6,000 suspected cases. Venezuela reports over 4,500 confirmed cases, however unofficial estimates are thought to be as high as 400,000. 

An alert to the first confirmed case of Zika virus in Brazil was issued in May 2015 by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). As of 1 February, Zika has been confirmed in 23 countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean. The spread of the disease is likely to continue as the vector species, the Aedes mosquito, is widely distributed in the region. 

On 1 February 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a public health emergency, following a significant increase in the number of reported cases since the start of the year. The last time WHO declared a global health emergency was during the Ebola outbreak. The current Zika outbreak is unlikely to present a crisis of the same scale; the declaration has been issued to fast-track aid and further research, particularly due to a potential link with neurological disorders and congenital birth defects.