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July 20, 2023

Iris Hautaniemi Forsberg, Ludovica Leccese, Virginia Martos Blanco, Arnold R. Koka, Agathe Labadi

Cameron Munoz, Senior Editor

Ubinas Volcano[1]

Event: On July 20, an explosion occurred at the Ubinas volcano in Peru’s Moquegua Region, with ashes spreading more than 15 kilometers in all directions and reaching the Arequipa district of San Juan Tarucani. More than five thousand people live near the Ubinas volcano and would be directly impacted from an eruption.[2] The volcano started spewing ash and gas at the beginning of July, and the government of Peru declared a state of emergency due to a possible eruption.[3] The Ubinas volcano is the most active volcano in Peru, and a 2019 eruption led to an evacuation of over 30.000 people. The volcano is located in the “Ring of Fire,” a 40.000-kilometer area with 452 volcanoes, where around 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur.[4]

Significance: The explosion’s toxic fumes and ashes will likely cause respiratory complications to local residents and worsening conditions for people with pre-existing breathing issues, the youth, and the elderly. The ashes’ dispersion through changing winds will very likely complicate the government’s issuing of alerts and recommendations to specific areas, slowing down the dissemination of information related to health and safety. Residents in the Ubinas District and the surrounding areas will likely attempt to gather valuable resources to prepare for an evacuation. However, low-wage workers will unlikely be able to face the financial needs of a long-term displacement, increasing their psychological distress and expectations for government-backed economic assistance programs. Healthcare providers will very likely be called for extended shifts to treat civilians showing symptoms. Healthcare services will also likely prioritize patients affected by the explosion and unsafe air quality. Daily life and regional events will likely be disrupted, impacting economic, cultural, educational, and political activities. Cultivated fields in the area will very likely be damaged by ashes and fine particles, impacting coming harvests and food security in the region. Due to fears and increasing concerns from the civilians affected, there is a roughly even chance for misinformation and fake news to quickly spread in these areas. Misinformation will likely be focused on potential inadequate responses by the Peruvian government and authorities. Insufficient government responses have a roughly even chance of expanding the presence of criminal-affiliated groups, which can provide aid to Peruvians in regions where the government cannot to increase their general support.


  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends Peru’s health service and emergency management agencies disseminate recommendations for health protection in case of an eruption. The recommendations should focus on printed material, radio, and television channels, to ensure chances of addressing sectors of the population who do not have access to the internet.

  • CTG recommends Peru’s authorities, schools, media, and health services inform civilians about the harmful effects of volcanic fumes and provide safety and security measures to mitigate inhalation and other health concerns. Peru’s health service should also immediately distribute masks and glasses to local residents to facilitate their protection. They should also be prepared for an increased number of patients with headaches, dizziness, irritation to the eyes and throats, and breathing problems, particularly among the youth and elderly.

  • CTG recommends the Peruvian government prioritize infrastructure and health concerns by securing clean water to avoid water contamination, ensuring that roads are accessible to emergency management responses, and preventing potential wildfires from spreading.

  • CTG recommends Peru’s government limit outdoor activities during the state of emergency and promote indoor activity as much as possible. Industries needing to work outside should be provided with adequate protection material and be monitored for potential health issues through regular medical checks.

  • CTG recommends the Peruvian government provide financial aid to the impacted sectors and workers if the state of emergency remains. We also recommend experts, politicians, and researchers cooperate on a comprehensive evaluation of long-term consequences, like humanitarian impact and cost of re-construction, of an eruption and a continuation of the state of emergency.

  • CTG recommends Peru and social media platforms monitor misinformation and disinformation campaigns, allowing Peruvian authorities to protect and inform Peruvian citizens effectively. The Peruvian government should swiftly provide affected civilians with assistance and support, to increase their trust in state-led emergency management campaigns, reducing risks of long-term distrust and reliance on non-state, criminally-affiliated groups for economic or material assistance during future emergencies.

  • CTG recommends Peru increase health personnel, emergency services, and law enforcement in the closest communities and cities to provide quick and truthful information to the locals and prepare evacuation plans and routes. We also recommend that local governments in surrounding areas work with NGOs and local governments to provide housing, food, water, and medications to civilians affected by a possible evacuation. Hospitals in affected areas should be prepared for the possible evacuation of patients and coordinate with other medical facilities in secure areas to manage the influx of patients.

  • CTG recommends the US, neighboring countries, and EU member states provide material and economic support to areas affected by the dispersion of ashes and continue communication with the Peruvian government to be prepared to send more assistance in the event of an eruption.

  • CTG recommends local authorities provide civilians with information about mental health providers and recommendations about steps to take at times of concern, such as talking to family members, and friends, or reaching out for professional help.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information, please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone at 202-643-2848 or email at


[1] Ubinas Volcano by Google Maps

[2] Nueva explosión del Volcán Ubinas: cenizas alcanzaron una altura de 4.000 metros sobre el cráter, Infobae, July 2023, (Translated by Google)

[3] Peru declares emergency as Ubinas volcano spews ash, Deutsche Welle, July 2023,

[4] Peru's Ubinas volcano erupts, spreads ash, Deutsche Welle, July 2019,


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