Two weeks after unleashed devastating floods, the relief effort in Venezuela has shifted to recovering bodies, avoiding epidemics and finding homes for 150.000 people. Up to 30.000 are feared dead in the floods and mudslides. The disaster is likely to rank among Latin America's worst of the century. The state of Vargas is considered the hardest-hit.
The Caracas-La Guaira highway is closed to all but humanitarian vehicles and the coastal roads are almost completely destroyed. The two international airports serving Caracas, Maiquetia and Simon Bolivar, remain closed to commercial flights. The Port of la Guaira is expected to reopen in three or four weeks.
Weather conditions over the last days have reportedly remained favorable. Cleanup operations in many areas have made progress, particularly in Caracas although some main avenues remain covered in mud. Some basic services such as electricity, telephone and water have been re-established in some areas. Caracas water supply reported to be normal. Venezuela Navy ships are bringing 800 tons of drinking water to coastal victims and a naval transport is housing 200 internally displaced persons. The Maiquetia airport is serving as the relief headquarters and more than 10.000 evacuees have been sheltered there.
The ACT Coordinating Office has made contacts with "Accion Ecumenica", The Lutheran Church, The Presbyterian Church, The Pentecostal Evangelical Union, The Episcopal Church, Grupo Social CESAP and CEPXSOL (through CWS). An Ecumenical Emergency Committee is being formed with the support of the Latin American council of Churches (CLAI).
The ACT Coordinating Office has provided U$17,500 from the Rapid Response Fund to Ecumenical Action for 'Crisis Response' on December 17 and U$22,500 to the Lutheran Church on December. Requests from the Presbyterian and the Pentecostal churches are in process. CWS has provided U$20,000 blanket fund grant for provision of 2,000 blankets and 2,000 mattresses for displaced families relocated to Barquisimeto through its partner CEPEXSOL. A shipment of health kits, baby kits and medicines is being prepared by CWS.
ACT, in coordination with CWS and LWF, has put together a team which will be in Venezuela on Monday 27.
- support the churches in their response to the emergency
- coordinate the activities
- assess the needs for the crisis phase.
Your urgent and immediate consideration is requested for all possible funding and support to the massive human needs caused by the floods. Additional information concerning the impact of the disaster, as well as projects and assistance planned as a result of emergency needs assessments will be provided through the ACT appeal in the coming days.
Please send your donations and /or pledges of support to the ACT Coordinating office in Geneva.
Thank you for your attention.
ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org