Venezuela: Health care at core of expanded humanitarian operation

Venezuelan Red Cross volunteers are ready to help people in need. Photo: Venezuela Red Cross

Venezuelan Red Cross volunteers are ready to help people in need. Photo: Venezuela Red Cross

Geneva, 6 March 2019 – In the face of rising humanitarian needs in Venezuela, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has announced a significant expansion of its support to the lifesaving activities of the Venezuelan Red Cross.

IFRC is now looking to its partners for 13 million Swiss francs for 2019 – close to triple the 4.8 million Swiss francs initially sought at the beginning of 2019. In total, the Red Cross aims to reach 220,000 highly vulnerable people.

Announcing the revised plan, IFRC President, Francesco Rocca, said:

Our commitment is to the people of Venezuela. Putting politics to the side, the situation is steadily deteriorating, and many people need our help.

This is a plan that responds to pressing humanitarian needs that our volunteers have independently identified and verified. Health is a key priority for us, and this is why we are strengthening our support to Venezuelan Red Cross health facilities as well as to the work they do in local and vulnerable communities. Our response is built on concrete actions that we know can be delivered in a neutral and impartial manner despite the highly complex situation in the country. We look now to our partners and donors to support us,said Mr Rocca.

This revised plan builds on the work already underway in Venezuela, including during recent demonstrations where Red Cross volunteers provided first aid to people injured. Central to it are efforts to provide a range of critical health services.

IFRC Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy, said:

Health needs in Venezuela have been increasing in recent years. There are critical gaps that, through this plan, we aim to address by leveraging the Venezuelan Red Cross’ network of eight hospitals and 33 clinics across the country, as well as its thousands of community volunteers and trained first aiders.”

The plan also complements the work that is underway elsewhere across the region to aid and support people seeking humanitarian assistance in neighbouring countries. For example, in Colombia, Red Cross volunteers and staff have supported more than 740,000 Venezuelans with a range of services, including emergency and primary health care, food and nutrition supplies, shelter support and even cash assistance.

The UN announced last month that the number of Venezuelans who have left the country since 2015 has climbed to 3.4 million

IFRC’s Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy, said:

While we ramp up efforts inside Venezuela, we also continue efforts to support people in need of humanitarian assistance in neighbouring countries. Red Cross volunteers and emergency teams are stationed at border crossings and along roadsides, offering care and support to thousands of people every day. However, these efforts may falter without additional resources,” said Mr Sy.


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