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UN humanitarian chief concludes visit to Venezuela

06 Nov 2019

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Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock at West General Hospital Dr. José Gregorio Hernández, in Caracas, Venezuela, 5 November 2019. Credit: OCHA Venezuela

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, today concluded a three-day visit to Venezuela, where he was briefed on the humanitarian situation and strengthened cooperation and coordination among the various humanitarian organizations operating in the country.

During the three-day trip, Mr. Lowcock met with officials from the Government of Venezuela, including the Vice-President, and members of the National Assembly. He also met UN and NGO humanitarian partners, in addition to members of the diplomatic community in Caracas.

Mr. Lowcock also visited a local hospital in a Caracas neighborhood that currently serves 1 million people, and met with staff and patients. Funds from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) have been provided to the hospital for much-needed medical supplies.

“I have seen myself how the health system is on the verge of collapse, with many hospitals lacking the most basic water and electricity infrastructure. Hospital patients, many of whom are already critically ill, are at high risk of losing their lives from new infections they are acquiring while they are in hospital, because basic cleaning and disinfection cannot be done,” said Mr. Lowcock

“This is exacerbated by a lack of medicines, and a shortage of doctors and nurses to administer them. Preventable diseases including malaria and diphtheria are back with a vengeance. People with chronic health conditions, pregnant and nursing women, infants and those living with disabilities are among the most vulnerable,” he added.

Thanking donors that have contributed financial resources for UN-supported activities to the humanitarian effort in Venezuela, the Emergency Relief Coordinator noted that more than US$155 million has been received thus far this year.

“But our US$223 million Humanitarian Response Plan remains under-resourced and the biggest constraint to delivering humanitarian assistance remains funding. Everyone needs to do more,” he stressed.

The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Venezuela aims to assist 2.6 million people and focuses on providing life-saving humanitarian aid and protection and strengthening community resilience.