Church World Service is the Humanitarian Agency ofthe National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
35 Denominations & Communions Working Together to Meet Human Needs
Account # 976722
(Signed by the Rev. Dr. Rodney Page, CWS Executive Director)
SUMMARY: Church World Service, the relief and development agency of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., is seeking $500,000 from its member denominations and the public to assist in the provision of material aid and technical assistance.
SITUATION: While the death toll from flooding and mudslides in Venezuela remains unclear - some estimates now say that 30,000 may have died - the disaster appeared to be one of the worst calamities to affect Latin America in this century.
The Venezuelan Civil Defense estimates that 23,000 homes have been destroyed and some 140,000 people have been left homeless, Reuters reported - many of those who had lived in shantytowns in hilly, coastal areas. The two weeks of flooding and mudslides have affected the Federal District of Caracas, as well as the States of Miranda, Vargas, Nueva Esparta (The island Margarita), Yaracuy, Balcon Carabobo, Zulia and Tachira.
Perhaps 30,000 may have perished, though exact figures may be difficult to determine. Earlier this week, government officials said they were speculating about exact numbers of those dead. The death toll had jumped sharply since last week, when hundreds were reported dead.
Whatever the final toll, it was clear that Venezuela faces huge rescue and reconstruction efforts. Large areas remain cut off from communications, and President Hugo Chavez had asked the U.S. government for pontoon bridges so that communication could be restored, Reuters reports.
The worst-hit area remained the coastal state of Vargas, many of whose 350,000 inhabitants had been evacuated. The government is seeking to relocate displaced residents.
A senior government official said many bodies remain buried in the mud that swept through entire coastal communities, said the BBC, which also reported that President Chavez has blamed previous administrations for allowing squatters to build shantytowns in vulnerable areas.
More than two dozen governments have pledged assistance at the request of the Venezuelan government, and the government continued massive rescue and relief operations, OCHA reports. For more information, see: <http://www.reliefweb.int>
$20,000 from the CWS Blanket Fund has been sent to provide 2,000 blankets and 2,000 mattresses to displaced persons relocated to Barquisimeto and Caracas.
A CWS/CCD team of technical assistants are being sent to work with Venezuelan partners in the receipt and distribution of goods and service provision to the displaced.
A shipment of health and baby kits and medical supplies is being prepared.
Future support of Action By Churches Together (ACT) appeal for Venezuela.
Call the CWS HOTLINE for updates: (800) 297-1516, ext. 111.
For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding, contact CWS Emergency Response.
Telephone: (212) 870-3151
After-hours emergency pager: (800) 780-0853
Internet Web Site: http://www.ncccusa.org/CWS/emre
CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, Attn. Venezuela Flooding, #976722, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Phone pledges or credit card donations: 1-800-297-1516, ext. 222. On-line contributions to: http://www.churchworldservice.org