Relief efforts underway in Venezuela

News and Press Release
Originally published
Baltimore, December 29, 1999 - Catholic Relief Services has begun work with Caritas Venezuela on the response to the recent flooding emergency in that country. Flooding in the northern region of Venezuela earlier this month killed up to 30,000 people and left approximately 150,000 homeless. Relief efforts being coordinated through Caritas Venezuela are centered on the eight dioceses that suffered the greatest damage.
Catholic Relief Services has committed an initial $100,000 toward the local purchase and distribution of emergency relief supplies. The funds will also be used to strengthen the Caritas network's capacity for emergency response. As the crisis moves out of the acute emergency phase, Caritas will develop a series of proposals for potable water, house construction and rehabilitation, and small enterprise development.

The Caritas network is currently assisting nearly 20,000 individuals sheltered in various Catholic churches, schools and in residences of host families. An additional number of people are being assisted via outreach into affected areas where residents have resisted evacuation. Medicine, clothing, water and non-perishable food items are being delivered to those in need.

John McCuen, Program Manager with Catholic Relief Services, visited at least ten different shelters for flood victims. "Most people are putting their faith in God that somehow things will resolve themselves," he reported. "The Christmas season and spirit have helped to mitigate some of the psychological impact of the disaster."

Nevertheless, the need for psychological counseling is great. "Many are in shock and, in spite of the dangers, have returned to their homes," said McCuen. "For these people, it is not only an attempt to prevent looting, but to begin to rebuild their lives."

Catholic Relief Services is accepting cash contributions to support relief efforts in Venezuela. If you would like to participate in these efforts, you may send donations, marked "Venezuela Floods," to:

Catholic Relief Services
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, MD 21203-7090

Copyright=A91999 CRS