Geneva, 21 December 1999
After fifteen days of constant and intense rainfall in Venezuela, flooding and landslides have been triggered in the Federal District of Caracas, as well as in the States of Miranda, Vargas, Nueva Esparta (The island Margarita), Yaracuy, Balcon Carabobo, Zulia and Tachira. Rivers have overflowed their banks and swept through poor districts in the capital city, Caracas. The worst hit areas were those with shanty towns perched precariously on steep mountainsides where one third of the capitals residents live. The National Assembly of Venezuela has declared the state of emergency for the federal district of Caracas and eight states. It is estimated that 150,000 people are affected, 15,000 are missing and more than 500 dead. Damage assessment results are not yet available, but serious damage has been reported to housing, transportation, electricity and communications infrastructures. National and international airports serving the Caracas metropolitan area have been closed until further notice. Landslides have interrupted the highway connecting Caracas to airport and port areas of la Guaira in Vargas State.
The ACT Coordinating Office has made initial contacts in Venezuela with The Ecumenical Action ("Acción Ecumenica"), The Lutheran Church, The Pentecostal Evangelical Union and the Episcopal Church which are doing the assessments for an immediate response to the needs and the coordination and planning for possible "Post-crisis rehabilitation and recovery assistance". The Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) with headquarters in Ecuador is cooperating in this coordination.
The ACT Coordinating has provided U$17,500 from the Rapid Response Fund to Ecumenical Action for 'Crisis Response' on December 17. A request of US$10,000 for Rapid Response Funds has been received from The Pentecostal Evangelical Union and is being processed.
ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.
The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.
We encourage ACT members to provide initial support and funding towards the Rapid Response Assistance, and to further consider donations to possible ACT appeals targeting the rehabilitation needs of floods victims. We will keep you informed of further developments.
Thank you for your attention.
ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org