Honduras to open aid office in New Orleans for its nationals hit by Hurricane Katrina

Honduras on Tuesday said it would open a government aid office in New Orleans to support the more than 80,000 Hondurans who lost their homes or livelihoods when Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.

The office will help oversee the distribution of US$100,000 (Ђ85,500) in donated aid, said Rene Becerra, the government's commissioner for immigration.

Becerra said migrants from Honduras began immigrating en masse to New Orleans in the 1960s and that today about 150,000 call the city home _ representing an estimated 80 percent of its Central American population.

The storm cost the Honduran community alone some US$100 million (Ђ85.5 million) in damaged property and lost wages, he said.

The New Orleans office will be set up for six months and should open its doors in coming weeks, Becerra said.

An estimated 600,000 Hondurans live in the United States, one third of whom do not have proper immigration documents, AP reported. V.A.

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