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ECHO Factsheet - South America - 7 October 2021

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Introduction

South America is exposed to multiple, often combined, natural hazards. Climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters, hampering the resilience of the most vulnerable communities. The region is also confronted with one of the largest population displacement movements of its history: more than 4.6 million Venezuelans have sought refuge in neighbouring South American countries (of which almost 1.8 million in Colombia, around 1 million in Peru, and over 450,000 respectively in Ecuador and Chile).

What are the needs?

The socio-economic crisis in Venezuela generated an exodus of 5.6 million people, heavily affecting the capacity of public services and host communities. Latin America remains one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic, with staggering numbers of infections and deaths. The most vulnerable parts of the region have been hit hard by the pandemic, threatening particularly remote indigenous communities in the rainforest. Prior to COVID-19, they already had lack of access to basic services, living resources and poor sanitary conditions. Local health facilities have become quickly overwhelmed, particularly in Venezuela, the Amazonian borders of Colombia, Peru, Brazil and the Pacific coast of Colombia. Besides the spread of COVID-19, the consequences of climate change and unpredictability of weather-related events also have a negative impact on the most vulnerable populations. When disasters strike, the biggest needs are shelter, food and relief items, access to safe water and proper sanitation, together with primary healthcare. Helping affected populations recover their livelihoods is also essential. After emergencies, we also prioritise protection needs of the most vulnerable groups.