Relief work continues in Venezuela

With more rain forecast through to the end of January, the situation with flooding and landslides in Venezuela is expected to get worse. As a result, the International Federation issued an updated emergency appeal last week for CHF 13,298,000. The money, in cash, kind and services, is initially destined to provide 50,000 people with basic relief goods, including blankets, sanitation equipment and medicines. The official death toll is still low, but local authorities are now estimating that 30,000 people might have perished in the tragedy. Around 600,000 people have been directly affected, according to statistics from Venezuelan Civil Defence. A state of emergency was declared last week in the south-west part of the country, near the Colombian border, after heavy rains set off mudslides there, forcing one thousand people into temporary shelters. In Caracas, ten thousand people are still being sheltered in various schools around the capital. Additional sanitation equipment and water distribution systems arrived last week, to improve the living conditions of those worst affected and provide them with clean water. Plans for community health services and psychological support are also underway.
"Our main priorities increasingly point to the potential future water problems" says desk officer Iain Logan. "One of our key concerns is making sure water, and access to it, stays clean and safe." Volunteers from the Venezuelan Red Cross continue to help in the tracing effort. To date, 1,250 inquiries, both national and international, have been resolved. The International Federation's new delegation is now fully operational and a detailed plan of action has been drafted focusing on health and water/sanitation.