OXFAM responds to Venezuelan crisis

For immediate release - 22 December
Oxfam today announced that it is sending a three-person team, including an engineer and health officer, to Venezuela to help organise clean water for the hundreds of thousands of people displaced in this week's floods and mudslides.

"A priority now is to get clean water to the survivors," said Oxfam Emergency Director Paul Smith-Lomas.

Oxfam aims to have the team in the capital city, Caracus, by the weekend. The team will focus on the worst hit areas, especially in the north of the country, although many of these areas are only accessible by helicopter.

"This 'start up' team are very experienced in emergency work," said Smith-Lomas. "They may buy locally whatever water supply equipment they consider necessary," he said, noting that Oxfam had £2 million worth of equipment in warehouses in the UK as back-up.

Smith-Lomas said that Oxfam has been in contact with the UN agency OCHA (Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and local organisations in Caracus.

Oxfam has typically provided relief in the aftermath of flooding disasters as follows:

"Phase 1" - providing clean water, opening up wells of mud and contaminated water, treating water with chlorine;

"Phase 2" - repairing water systems, building latrines, digging canals, spraying against mosquitoes.

Oxfam also identifies the need for early detection and treatment of primary diseases, health and hygiene promotion, and the construction of emergency housing and shelter.

For further information contact Matthew Grainger 01865-312498