Venezuelan community associations in France call for international solidarity to fight the coronavirus in Venezuela
The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in Venezuela is a source of great concern because the country does not have the health, economic or technical capacity to deal with the effects of the pandemic on the population
On the one hand, the various care centres do not have the necessary implements to meet the needs of people infected with the coronavirus. Thus, there is a known lack of medicines and beds to attend to medium-severe cases; at the same time, the shortage of more complex implements, including respirators and oxygen, to treat severe cases that need resuscitation is deplored. In addition to this, there is a poor hygiene conditions in health care facilities where the lack of soap and water makes it extremely difficult to practice the basic hygiene measures recommended to prevent infection. On the other hand, the minimum conditions of bio-protection for the medical personnel is not guaranteed (masks, gloves, glasses, disposable gowns), so they are risking their lives while caring of others. A reality that is worsened by the economic situation of the different actors who operate in the health centers, especially the public facilities, whose payments are often subject to delays, and are structurally insufficient to deal with the context of hyperinflation that the country is experiencing.
The situation of the health system is in a general context that makes it difficult to manage the effects of the pandemic. The practice of the containment strategy as a method of preventing infection is severely limited due to the precarious conditions in which the population lives. Indeed, Venezuelan people experience daily deprivation in terms of access to the various public services (water, electricity, gas, gasoline, telecommunications) that make them more vulnerable to the health crisis. This vulnerability has an even greater impact on a large part of the population whose survival depends on day-to-day economic activities.
For them, confinement is a chosen risk between the preservation of health and the need to work to cover daily expenses, especially food.
Among all difficulties, many actors are building strong efforts to face the effects of the pandemic. Venezuelan NGOs and associations are joining international actors to meet the medical and food needs of the population. However, because of the great difficulties of the Venezuelan situation, named by the United Nations as a "complex humanitarian emergency", even more accompaniment, even more aid, even more solidarity is needed.
In this sense, we, as associations of the Venezuelan community in France, dedicated to the work of aid and humanitarian action towards Venezuela, have joined together to fight against the coronavirus in Venezuela. Our associative activities allow us to know the difficult realities on the country and to report on them. Our establishment in France forces us to be in solidarity and to build bridges between our original country and our adoption country. For these reasons, we want all together make an appeal of conscience and humanity, especially to the French and European authorities to ask for their support in our efforts to face the current pandemic in Venezuela.
We therefore request the necessary resources and intermediaries to achieve the following:
1/ The opening of a humanitarian space in the country, facilitating the Pan American Health Organization to monitor and distribute biosecurity implements that will allow the different workers in the medical system (doctors, nurses, health assistants, cleaning staff...) to work in safe conditions for themselves, their patients and those who may come into contact with them in the exercise of their duties;
2/ The arrival of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Venezuela. Within this framework, we ask for the humanitarian agencies, organizations and associations to be the ones who distribute the resources that arrive through the WFP. This will make it possible to meet the food needs of the population arising from the complex humanitarian emergency and aggravated by the pandemic;
3/ The access to gasoline (fuel) in Venezuela; this resource must be managed transparently by recognized actors such as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). On the basis of this reliable management, it will be possible to give access to gasoline to the various sectors of the population, especially for the priority ones (health system personnel, food producers and distributors, associations and NGOs carrying out health and humanitarian work).
Together we make our requests and at the same time we propose our assistance from the organizational, mentoring and advice point of view, based on our knowledge as organized actors with experience on the Venezuelan realities. In the same way, we propose our initiative as an example for all those organizations of the Venezuelan community abroad and we invite them to join and share this message of solidarity. Only if we remain together we can fight against the coronavirus in Venezuela.
Paris, April 24, 2020.