At the request of several United Nations (UN) organisations, NGOs and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Switzerland chartered a cargo plane to send relief supplies to Venezuela. The relief flight, carrying 94 tonnes of humanitarian supplies, landed in Caracas on 19 June 2020. This is approximately the same as the total amount sent to date by the UN to Venezuela since the beginning of the pandemic. The consignment sent by the SDC mainly consists of medical supplies such as personal protective equipment against COVID-19, medicines, relief materials and hygiene products, as well as water purification equipment. The operation is expected to benefit around 1.2 million people.
Venezuela has been experiencing a serious political, social and economic crisis for several years. This has had a major humanitarian impact on the country, made worse by the current pandemic. Relief organisations face numerous difficulties, particularly with the supply of medical equipment.
A joint project with partner organisations
The nine organisations taking part in the project – UN agencies, NGOs and the ICRC – are funding the cost of the aid supplies, which are worth around CHF 2 million; Switzerland is financing the transport costs involved (CHF 1.1 million). These partner organisations shipped the relief supplies to Switzerland, to be reloaded in the logistics hub of Zurich airport. The cargo plane, which was chartered by the SDC's Humanitarian Aid Department, left Zurich yesterday on 18 June 2020 and arrived in Caracas early this morning local time.
A team from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) was also on board. Along with representatives from the Swiss embassy in Caracas and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the SHA team supervised the handing over of the supplies to the organisations taking part on the ground.
The operation has received broad-based support from various national and international stakeholders and demonstrates Switzerland's firm commitment to humanitarian principles and practice. It also makes it possible for Switzerland to lend support to extremely vulnerable populations in a highly polarised environment. The SDC's Humanitarian Aid Department has provided CHF 24 million to alleviate suffering in Venezuela since 2017. This year, it has allocated an additional CHF 12 million in response to the humanitarian needs arising from the crisis there. This also has an impact on the neighbouring countries, where millions of Venezuelan citizens reside.
Supporting the fight against COVID-19 around the world
The relief flight to Venezuela ties in with Switzerland's other efforts to combat the worldwide spread of COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Switzerland has delivered relief supplies to several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. It has also responded to calls from international organisations and supported projects in various countries aimed at mitigating the economic and social consequences of the pandemic. Switzerland has earmarked over CHF 203 million for the global fight against COVID-19.
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