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Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of): Venezuela Complex Emergency Situation Report #7, December 13, 2019

Source: International Medical Corps Country: Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
SITUATION UPDATE Venezuela continues to face one of the most dire political and economic crises in the country’s history. The United Nations estimates that 94% of the population lives in poverty, while some 4.5 million Venezuelans now live outside of the country. There has been a complete collapse of food provisions, local markets, employment and the healthcare system. This situation has been compounded by political violence and hyperinflation, with the cost of goods doubling each week for a period during 2018. According to recent estimates, more than 7 million people, including 3.2 million children, urgently need humanitarian assistance, with priorities being water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), food, health and protection.1 Recent surveys conducted by non-governmental organizations like the Observatorio Venezolano de Servicios Púnlicos have noted that the collapse of water infrastructure in the country has accelerated over the past two years. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), access to water remains one of the greatest challenges, with some communities receiving clean water less than once every eight days.2 Though there have been fewer electricity and water outages in the Capital District, services in other states remain limited. Access to potable water depends on pumps, so when electricity fails, the water supply does as well. Additionally, the Venezuelan population is largely concentrated in urban areas, which are prone to shortages due to the deterioration of the water system network and regular power outages that affect both water treatment plants and pumping stations. Due to lack of basic water and electricity services, as well as the mass exodus of healthcare workers and specialists, the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse. Hospital patients—many of whom are already critically ill—have a higher risk of aquiring new infections while in the hospital, due to a lack of basic cleaning and disinfection supplies. Lack of access to medications has left many with acute and chronic conditions, including patients with HIV, without adequate care. The disintegration of services disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, including indigenous populations, children under the age of five, pregnant and lactating women, adolescents, those with chronic and non-communicable diseases, and the elderly. As a result, some of the most vulnerable populations, particularly those in the central districts of the country, have begun migrating toward the border in search of better living conditions. This migration has increased protection risks for many, as border districts have higher levels of insecurity, with increased incidents of human trafficking, exploitation and abuse, and gender-based violence. OCHA has noted that states along the border— including Bolivar, Delta Amacuro, Amazonas, Zulia, Táchira and Apure—now have the highest needs, given the increases in population. The deterioration of healthcare infrastructure has also led to a resurgence of treatable and vector-borne diseases. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has reported that a measles outbreak that began in 2017 remains ongoing, with the most recent laboratory-confirmed cases occurring in Zulia in August 2019. Cases of diphtheria continue to rise, with a total of 2,956 suspected cases identified and 287 deaths reported. Though mass vaccination campaigns are underway, there are still 2.9 million children who have not received proper vaccinations and remain susceptible.
Additionally, PAHO has reported that malaria transmission remains high, with 214,021 cases reported as of June 2019— an increase of 7 percent compared to the same period in 2018. Other public health concerns include tuberculosis, and maternal and infant mortality. Though agencies are focused on providing life-saving assistance and protection, key challenges remain. Aid is highly politicized, further exacerbating the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Additionally, actors have limited access to official data on the latest needs and population distributions, weakening efforts to target vulnerable populations and address emerging needs. Access to fuel remains particularly challenging, with OCHA reporting long lines at gas stations, some lasting several days. Lack of fuel and poor maintenance of the road infrastructure have made transportation difficult, leaving remote areas cut off from services.


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