TONACATEPEQUE, El Salvador – Residents of a populous region in central El Salvador have started hanging white flags outside their homes as a sign that they are running out of food during the lockdown imposed by the government 52 days ago to contain the COVID-19 epidemic in the country.
These are at least 93 families in a section of the Alta Vista residential neighborhood of Tonacatepeque, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from San Salvador, who have “a requirement for basic grains.”
“The white flags were placed because there is a lot of need, there are people who have no food” and “staple foods are running out,” Manuel de Jesus Perez, a member of the neighborhood’s board of directors, told EFE.
He said they had requested assistance from President Nayib Bukele as well as municipal authorities, but have yet to receive a response.
“Because of the situation we’re facing, we don’t have inflows of funds from anywhere else, so we’re asking for that assistance,” said Perez, who added that for a month now they’ve been trying to collect food for families in need and with fewer resources.
Within Polygon 19 of the neighborhood, there are families in greater need than others, said Perez, citing the case of a man recently let go from his job who also has an urgent requirement of medicines.
El Salvador has so far completed 52 days under lockdown, a period during which only people working in essential sectors, including the food supply chain, basic services and health care, are allowed to leave their homes.
The government of the Central American country is preparing 2.7 million food packages to distribute to households.
According to data from the International Labor Organization, more than 1.3 million jobs in El Salvador, which account for 46.6% of the country’s workforce, are “at risk” due to the pandemic.
The country’s finance ministry data shows that 6.3% of the country’s working age population – more than 189,000 people – is unemployed.
Meanwhile, 26.3% of households, with 1.7 million inhabitants, are living in poverty.