Report of the Inter-American Task Force meeting on the floods in Venezuela

OAS: Mr. Paul Spencer, Advisor to the Assistant Secretary General, informed that last Friday US$20,000 had been allocated for the most urgent needs and that they would be reprogramming additional funds for the reconstruction phase.

IICA: Mr. Guillermo Grajales, Regional Coordinator of Planning, commented that IICA had already sent a team to support the Ministry of Agriculture, and that they would assist them in the preparation of reconstruction projects and food procurement. As well they are providing technical assistance to Venezuelan Embassies in other countries through IICA's Country Offices.

PADF: Mr. Norberto Ambros, Project Director, reported that they had sent an assessment mission to determine real needs and already had two aid packages consisting of tents, purification tablets etc. (each worth $25,000US) in Miami ready to be shipped out. So far they have received donations from various companies such as Phillip Morris for US$25,000, which would be transferred to the Venezuelan Red Cross. They hope to report within 48 hours on further donations.

IDB: Mr. Miguel Rivera, Assistant Director, informed that they had allocated US$50,000 to the Bank of Venezuela to be used on transportation and other urgent needs. US$200 million from approved loans can be reprogrammed to solve urgent needs on water supply, epidemiological activities, education, etc. They are also willing to consider requests for new loans for the reconstruction phase and also to support with technical expertise in this area.

INTER-AMERICAN DEFENSE BOARD: General John C. Thompson, Chairman of the IADB, reported that they were trying to obtain updated information on the changing situation and that they would be distributing information on the real needs and on what has been received so far. They maintain a close contact with the Venezuelan Armed Forces, Civil Defense, and U. S. SouthCom. For the latest report from the Inter-American Defense Board, please click here.

Ambassador Virginia Contreras, made a brief report on the actions carried out by the Government of Venezuela and by her office in Washington since last Thursday. Also reported that they already had received more than enough drugs and food, and that this large amount was creating a logistical problem at the entrance and distribution points. The real need at the present time is for heavy equipment for mud and debris removal, for the recovery of the dead and also to re-open roads. Efforts should also focus on the permanent relocation of displaced and homeless people. She insisted on the human aspects of children during this Christmas period.

PAHO's AD, Dr. Mirta Roses-Periago, reported that PAHO/WHO's Representative in Venezuela was coordinating the United Nations System activities, and that the relief activities were being carried out in a balanced manner between PAHO/WHO, UNDP, UNICEF, World Bank and ECLAC, who was beginning an assessment mission today. Staff from different countries have been mobilized to Venezuela to support the PAHO office and the Ministry of Health.

PAHO requested that both the Agencies present at this meeting and the Government of Venezuela should promote the use of SUMA as an important instrument during this emergency period.