121 ONG venezolanas remiten carta a ONU-Hábitat para que el país no sea excluido de su plan Covid-19 (Español/English)
La comunicación fue enviada luego que el ente divulgara su Plan de Acción sobre el Covid-19, dirigido a 64 países, del cual fue excluida Venezuela. En el texto del mensaje que acompañaba la carta, las organizaciones expresaron que “Venezuela sufre una emergencia humanitaria compleja, como lo documenta el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, que ha tenido un grave impacto en las condiciones de vida de la población, generando una de las peores crisis migratorias en América Latina en los últimos años. Durante varios años hemos sufrido interrupciones permanentes en el servicio de electricidad, teléfonos celulares, agua y gas doméstico, lo que hace que nuestros hogares sean inseguros para mantener el aislamiento durante la Cuarentena”.
A continuación el comunicado en español e inglés:
Caracas, 28 de abril de 2020
Caracas, April 28th, 2020
Maimunah Mohd Sharif Executive Director of UN-Habitat Delivered at the Office.-
First of all, please receive a cordial greeting and our wish for the greatest success in your efforts. Also, that you be in good health with your family members in these circumstances. The social and human rights organizations that subscribe to this communication want to communicate our concern about the exclusion of Venezuela from the “Covid-19 Response Plan” that UN-Habitat has designed for 64 countries in the world. According to the criteria defined by your institution (populations lacking adequate housing and without basic services such as water and sanitation, with a high percentage of informal workers), we do not understand how a country that suffers from a Complex Humanitarian Emergency and that has generated the greatest forced migration crisis in recent years on the American continent, is not a part of UN-Habitat’s focus under the current Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, released on July 4th, 2019, “The diversion of resources, corruption and lack of maintenance in public infrastructure, as well as underinvestment, have resulted in violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, among others, due to the deterioration of basic services such as public transportation and access to electricity, water and natural gas. ” On her part, on February 9, 2019, the special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha, signed a communication with 3 other rapporteurs (Food, health and extreme poverty and human rights), where it was stated that “Millions of People are suffering from a lack of food, essential medicines, a shortage of basic needs, including personal hygiene, power cuts, and inadequate housing conditions. Conditions continue to worsen day by day, placing many lives at risk. ” Mrs. Farha specifically referred to the complaints where “entire individuals and families have been evicted from their homes, with excessive use of force, leaving them in a street situation.” The group of experts also stated that the lack of updated official information on food, health and power cuts made it impossible to assess the true magnitude of the crisis.
The Survey on National Food Security of the World Food Program of the United Nations, carried out at the end of 2019, reveals that 4 out of 10 households in our country report daily interruptions of the electric service, 72% have an irregular supply of gas and 25 % of households do not have stable access to drinking water. In the Survey on Humanitarian Needs carried out on March 2020, it is recorded that only 19% of basic sanitation facilities are safe and more than 800,000 people in rural areas still practice open defecation. It is estimated that 4.3 million people are facing humanitarian needs related to water and sanitation, of which 1.4 are children under 5 years old and 2.3 million are elderly. On the other hand, during the month of March, the Executive Branch released figures from the survey that it carries out through the automated system of official information “PATRIA”, which shows that 88% of households report having difficulties to access food, 61% difficulties to access drinking water and 46% difficulties to access gas for domestic use.
According to information compiled by the Venezuelan NGO Provea, which monitors the State’s levels of compliance with its obligations to the right to housing, in 2019 the Venezuelan State just built 4,820 houses, despite the fact that official information ensures that 500,000 housing units were built. According to data from the Committee of people affected by Blackouts during the year 2019, 80,700 power supply failures took place throughout the country. During the quarantine, this situation has persisted, which is why various states of the country experience unscheduled interruptions in their electricity service of up to 6 hours a day. The same situation is denounced regarding access to drinking water, domestic gas and cell phone services, which is why Venezuelan households cannot be considered as “safe” for the proper compliance of the social isolation measures under the pandemic. According to a study of citizen perception of the Venezuelan Observatory of Public Services (OVSP), carried out in December 2019 in 10 of the main cities of the country and in 27 municipalities, only 16.7% of those surveyed indicated receiving continuous potable water service in their homes, despite 91.8% of the total sample claiming to have access to pipes.
The crisis of basic services in the country is a permanent cause of protests by the affected communities. According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS), during the month of March 2020, 184 protests were held throughout the country claiming this lack of access, 87 of them specifically regarding access to drinking water, 51 protests for lack of domestic gas and 46 protests due to the interruption of electrical service. This collapse is reflected in the country’s public hospital system. The 2019 Survey on Public Hospitals carried out by the organization Doctors for Health showed that of the 40 surveyed hospitals in the country 78% reported water failures, while 20% spent all year without water service. Likewise, 63% reported electric failures. For their part, 7 organizations defending the right to education published at the end of 2018 a national report in which they document that the interruptions of water service in schools are widespread and rationing and power cuts prevent regular hours of class. According to complaints received by the Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons (OVP), the lack of water in prisons forces those deprived of liberty to pay up to $ 50 USD to access a “water truck.”
We do not know whether the decision not to include Venezuela in the Covid-19 response plan to be implemented by UN-Habitat responds to the limited collaboration of the country’s authorities or, based on unsubstantiated information on the ground, it is considered that in Venezuela there are no deficits in the fulfillment of State obligations regarding the right to decent housing. In this case, our organizations are willing to keep your office informed about the data we collect on the situation of both access to housing and public services in the country.
In any case, the organizations that subscribe to this communication request your office to urgently reconsider this decision, and take all necessary steps to include Venezuela in the Covid-19 response plan to be implemented by UN-Habitat.
Thanks for your attention to this communication, we bid you a cordial farewell: