According to the latest reports, over 20,000
people have lost their lives in the tragic landslides and floods of Venezuela.
Some 150,000 to 200,000 people are reported as being homeless. At
least 1,000 children have been separated from their parents. Some 336,000
people have been affected by this devastating natural disaster.
The government of Venezuela has prioritized rescue operations and as of last night 70,000 people have been rescued. Homeless families are being housed in football stadiums, public facilities, and schools.
The full devastation wrought by this disaster has not yet been calculated. In the weeks and months to come, we expect the tragic implications of this emergency to increase as infrastructure and other damages are fully assessed.
This is the first time that the Venezuelan
people have been forced to confront a disaster of this magnitude. Airports
have been closed except for the exclusive use of rescue operations and
the delivery of emergency supplies. International help
is important and urgent.
UNICEF has targeted six areas where we will work in conjunction with key ministries, other United Nations agencies, and relief organizations.
1. Psycho-Social Trauma Counseling.
UNICEF has developed a methodology that was very useful in Central
America (in the case of Hurricane Mitch) and in Colombia earlier this year
(for the victims of the earthquake in the coffee-growing region).
During the initial phase, UNICEF will reach out to 6,000 children in need.
2. Communication Campaign. UNICEF is initiating a three-tiered campaign:
A. To help cope with the trauma, UNICEF is developing and distributing messages of hope and providing psychological support to adults and children.
B. To avert outbreaks of disease common in emergency situations, preventative health measures will be implemented to mitigate the risks of an epidemic.
C. To help people who have been displaced from their homes and communities, and to better understand the devastation, an assessment to determine the number, location, and needs of the affected children will be completed.
3. Basic Sanitation and Hygiene Education. UNICEF aims to prevent epidemics by immediately distributing chlorine tablets to purify water, and by distributing latrines, toilets, and hygiene kits which will be accompanied by a hygiene education program.
4. Re-Unification of Children and Families.
5. School Support. UNICEF will target 25 schools, 150 teachers, and 50,000 school children to help re-open schools by early January.
6. Support for Indigenous Communities. Indigenous communities are among the poorest groups in Venezuela. UNICEF will support families with basic "family kits" including cooking utensils, basic education materials, installation of water tanks, and water purification and sanitation systems.
To help us help the families of Venezuela and for more information, please visit us at the UNICEFUSA website http://www.unicefusa.org/alert/emergency/venezuela/venezuela.html
Thank you for your support of the world's children! United States Committee for UNICEF Saving Children's Lives * Building Children's Futures