Venezuela - October 2020

Situation Report

Situation Overview

As of December 26, Venezuelan authorities had confirmed 111,951 cases of COVID-19 in the country, 106,105 recovered cases and 1,013 deaths. According to their report, daily confirmed cases have decreased during the last month. Between December 19 and 26, there was an average of 310 reported cases per day, representing a 67.2 per cent reduction compared to the average number of cases reported in September (946 cases per day).

The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) has strengthened technical cooperation with the National Institute of Hygiene “Rafael Rangel” as part of their efforts to increase the COVID-19 diagnostic capacity. To this end, PAHO/WHO distributed 340,000 antigenic tests in the country's 24 states and a total of 35 reading devices. In addition, PAHO/WHO will support local authorities with the implementation of a mobile laboratory with the necessary biosafety level to perform confirmatory PCR tests in the eastern part of the country.

As part of the response to the pandemic, on November 16 and 22, two airplanes arrived in the country with a total of 47 tons of health supplies managed by UNICEF, including vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19.

National authorities announced that in December there would be a general relaxation of the quarantine measures in place until November. They also announced that only commercial flights from Bolivia, Mexico and Turkey were still active, as well as domestic flights to tourist destinations such as Porlamar and Los Roques.

During the last month, mixed mobility of people between Venezuela and neighboring countries has continued, although the flow of people returning to the country has decreased. The lower number of people returning through formal border crossings has led to a lower demand and pressure on the temporary shelters (PASI) established by the authorities in border states. The number of PASIs has been decreasing in recent weeks and currently there are 16 in operation in Tachira, 12 in Bolivar, 9 in Zulia and 2 in Apure.

As part of this mixed mobility trend, there have been reports of Venezuelans leaving the country through informal channels, encouraged in part by the relaxation of quarantine measures in neighboring countries. Various reports indicate protection needs and risks faced by people leaving Venezuela, both on the way to the border and through irregular crossings.

Departures by sea have also been reported. In December there were several wrecks of boats from Güiria (state of Sucre) bound for Trinidad and Tobago. To date, a total of 32 people have died, and it is estimated that there could be a dozen people missing.

In several states of the country there are still limitations in the continued access to water, electricity, domestic gas and telecommunications services. Authorities have reported an increase in domestic fuel production, which has led to some improvement in gasoline distribution in Caracas, although it remains a challenge in most of the country's states, including for humanitarian actors.

In November, rains caused by the La Niña phenomenon and the passage of hurricane Iota through the Caribbean Sea affected mainly the western part of the country, and more severely the states of Tachira, Zulia, Falcón and Lara. Continuous rains have caused rivers to overflow, floods, landslides, collapse of sewage systems and failures in public services such as electricity, telecommunications, water and gas. In the state of Zulia, an estimated 5,000 families were affected by the floods in Maracaibo. In the municipality of La Guajira, some 1,250 people were affected by the rains and flooding caused by the overflowing of the Chama river. It is estimated that more than 2,000 people and 6,500 hectares of crops were affected. In the state of Tachira, authorities confirmed that 3,356 people were affected in the municipality of Junín and more than 1,000 in the municipalities of Bolivar and San Cristóbal. In Falcón, rains affected 15 municipalities and a landslide was reported in Santa Ana hill. Also, the overflowing of water streams affected some 3,100 families. In the state of Lara, at least 1,747 hectares of crops were affected, putting a total of 492,025 tons of food at risk.

The National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (Instituto Nacional de Meteorología e Hidrología or INAMEH) and Civil Protection continue to monitor the situation. With support from the national level, local authorities have implemented response activities for the affected people, prioritizing the reestablishment of water and electricity services, water drainage, removal of material to clear transportation routes and the provision of certain supplies and non-food items. In the state of Tachira, humanitarian partners are working with local authorities to provide water, hygiene and dignity kits, household goods and habitat kits to affected people.

COVID-19 continues to exacerbate the impact on the livelihoods, incomes and purchasing power of the most vulnerable households, and to increase the food security and nutrition needs of the population. The early warning analysis on acute food insecurity hotspots published by FAO and WFP refers to the 2019 findings, where it was estimated that 7 million people face moderate food insecurity and 2.3 million people severe food insecurity.

As of November 10, the humanitarian response in Venezuela, under the coordination of the United Nations, has received about US$214.4 million to respond to humanitarian needs. US$138.4 million have been mobilized through the Humanitarian Response Plan, representing 18.1 percent of the funds required for its full implementation. Despite a significant increase in funding in recent months, the gap in the coverage of the Humanitarian Response Plan remains the biggest challenge to ensure a response in line with the needs of the affected population.