Ten days of continuous rainfall in Venezuela
has provoked serious flooding and landslides in the Federal District, as
well as in the States of Miranda, Vargas, Nueva Esparta (the Island of
Margarita), Yaracuy, Falcon, Carabobo, Zulia and Tachira. The number of
deaths remains difficult to confirm (initial reports vary widely from an
official figure of more than 700 to as many as 25,000); over 500,000 people
are estimated to have been directly affected. The Government of Venezuela
has declared a State of Emergency.
Red Cross/Red Crescent Action
The Venezuelan Ministry of Interior, through the National Civil Defence Authorities, are coordinating the relief operation. The Red Cross is supporting this by:
- assisting in the ongoing rescue and search operations;
- transporting the injured for medical treatment (utilising the airports of Caracas, Carlota, and Maiquetia); and
- assisting people who have taken refuge in temporary shelters by providing food parcels, blankets, clothes, and other general relief items.
Venezuelan Red Cross has been assisting people in more than 80 shelters (16 macro-shelters have been established in Caracas). Some 2,000 food packages have been distributed in Vargas State to the most affected people. A toll-free telephone line has been established where people can ask for information about relatives in the affected areas.
These emergency activities are being carried out with the support of more than 1,340 Red Cross first aid workers, doctors and other volunteers. Two Federation delegates have arrived in-country to support the operation, and 60,000 Swiss francs have been released from the Disater Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the relief operation.
The Federation has received information about action by the American Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross, French Red Cross and German Red Cross. A number of Participating National Societies have indicated readiness to provide financial support as soon as an appeal is launched. The American, Spanish, Colombian and Dominican Red Cross Societies have sent delegates in the field to support the operation.
The action is still mainly focused on rescue, but those made homeless require material assistance. Assessment efforts are underway, and detailed needs as well as quantities will be communicated in the coming Preliminary Appeal. There is a clear need for blankets, water purification tablets, hygiene articles, cooking sets, generators, vehicles, vector control measures, and shelter material.
With many communities still under water, this has been called the worst disaster in Venezuela in fity years. Exact damage is very difficult to assess because of the extent of the damage to roads bridges and telecommunications.
=A91997 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies