Malteser International Americas Intervenes with Emergency Relief for Venezuelan Refugees Fleeing to Colombia
Colombian border towns on verge of crisis as thousands of Venezuelans seek refuge in the region
NEW YORK - March 26, 2018 - PRLog -- With estimates of over a million refugees now on Colombian soil, Malteser International Americas today announced it is providing emergency relief along the Colombian-Venezuelan border in northern La Guajira to prevent the prolongation of a humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere.
"For the last three years, Malteser International Americas and its primary partners on the ground have provided health and rural development, emergency relief, developed strategic local partnerships and cemented a trust with indigenous communities. This, combined with our unparalleled cultural and geographical access and deep knowledge of remote Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities allows us to work in their sacred communities and prevent further crises from erupting across international borders," said Ravi Tripptrap, Executive Director, Malteser International Americas.
Malteser International Americas, the humanitarian organization of Order of Malta, begins the first phase of emergency interventions this week in the urban center of Riohacha, as well in five initial surrounding Wayuu settlements. Working alongside local partners (Malteser Colombia and ABIUDEA), local government entities, and community members, our ongoing emergency efforts include:
There are 3 official and around 280 unofficial border crossings along the border between Colombia and Venezuela. The northern border of Paraguachón is located in La Guajira, one of the poorest departments of Colombia. Since 2015, Malteser International Americas has provided health and nutrition relief and development to internally displaced people and particularly marginalized Afro-Colombian and indigenous people in the region, specifically the Wayuu, Colombia's largest indigenous population.
While the humanitarian crisis has the potential to have exponential consequences and cause havoc to the entire region, the mass exodus of Venezuelan refugees into these communities results in a severe crisis for the Wayuu people, who believe in the indigenous concept of being 'one people beyond national borders'. A spot check in seven vulnerable communities confirmed that those communities alone are hosting at least 750 Wayuu refugees of Venezuelan descent in already extremely poor conditions. However, it is believed that indigenous refugee numbers are in the thousands.
"The current situation of the refugees in La Guajira is dire. Families are sleeping in parks and public places in the urban centers without access to food or basic services in visibly bad nutritional and health conditions,"
Malteser International Americas is seeking donations to provide protection and fulfill the needs of all affected communities in a comprehensive, sustainable and coordinated manner. To support efforts in Colombia resulting from the Venezuelan crisis, visit www.orderofmaltarelief.org.
About Malteser International Americas:
Malteser International Americas is an affiliate of Malteser International, the humanitarian relief organization of the Order of Malta. Through its U.S. headquarters, Malteser International Americas provides emergency relief and sustainable, community-based programs focused on health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation & hygiene, and disaster preparedness, to vulnerable people in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. For over 60 years, the humanitarian organization's focus remains to empower people to live healthier, better, more resilient lives with dignity. Visit www.orderofmaltarelief.org to learn more.
Jill Watson, Communication Director