Cover photo: Students learn good hygiene practices during a sensitization campaign in a school in Caracas. Handwashing with soap after using the toilet is essential to prevent disease and promote health. Credit: OCHA/Gema Cortes/November2019
The Venezuela Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) aims to reach 2.6 million people by the end of this year, which only represents a limited number of all the people in need, and includes 1.2 million girls and boys, in the areas of health, water, sanitation and hygiene, food security, nutrition, protection, shelter and non-food items, and education. The HRP has three strategic objectives to assist the most vulnerable population groups. First, to provide vital assistance by improving access to basic goods and services. Second, to promote people’s protection and dignity by strengthening community and institutional mechanisms. And third, to build resilience, support livelihoods and contribute to the sustainability of basic service provision. To meet these objectives, the United Nations and its partners are seeking US$223 million.
In 2018, the United Nations began scaling up the provision of humanitarian assistance, complementing the actions of national and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Between April 2018 and March 2019, the UN supported the vaccination of 8.5 million children against measles and 4.7 million children against diphtheria, helping to contain the spread of communicable diseases. Over the past year, the UN distributed 348 tons of medicines and medical supplies to 41 priority hospitals and 23 health facilities in 18 states. Some 83,000 children under five and pregnant and lactating women have received preventative treatments for severe malnutrition and some 185,000 people have been provided with access to safe water since January 2019. These are a few of the key achievements of the ongoing humanitarian response.
During the first half of 2019, the UN set up a humanitarian coordination architecture in line with international standards as outlined in UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182 (1991) and based on the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. The structure includes the designation of the Humanitarian Coordinator who leads the Humanitarian Country Team for strategic decision making, the activation of eight thematic clusters to operationalize the response and four field coordination hubs to ensure the effective delivery of assistance as close to the people in need as possible. This coordination structure is essential in bringing together all humanitarian actors, including national and international NGOs, UN agencies, funds and programmes and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as an observer, all of whom have considerably increased their capacities to be able to respond to the current situation. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has also established a presence to support the whole structure.
In a complex context, with acute humanitarian needs, it is critical that national and international stakeholders focus their attention on meeting the needs of the Venezuelan people. This HRP provides an internationally recognized framework for a principled, transparent, well-coordinated and effective response, targeting the most vulnerable people. I urgently call on donors to support this plan. At the same time, I call on Venezuelan authorities and all segments of society and the international community to work together and jointly commit to helping Venezuelans in need of assistance, including by creating consensus on ways to finance the plan.
The HRP is an important tool to facilitate a coordinated response to meet humanitarian needs in Venezuela. The plan is realistic in terms of operational capacities to deliver, yet at the same time modest in terms of responding to the scale of needs. It will be revised and expanded for 2020 based on new available information on needs and capacities. In the meantime, we will continue to seek financing to allow the scale up of the humanitarian response in Venezuela with a focus on the most affected people.