Oxfam Scales Up Its Aid in Colombia as Worst Floods in 60 Years Hit Two Million People

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Oxfam Scales Up Its Aid in Colombia as Worst Floods in 60 Years Hit Two Million People

WASHINGTON - Oxfam is today scaling up its aid effort to reach 200,000 people affected by the severe floods that have hit Colombia in recent weeks. The floods have affected more than two million people in 28 out of 32 districts in the country.

The agency called on the international community for an
increased aid response to the emergency, warning that the heavy rains
are expected to continue for many more weeks. 

The
flooding has resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people. A further
300,000 have been left homeless and are sheltering in temporary
shelters.

"These are the worst floods to hit Colombia in 60 years.
They are destroying thousands of homes and crops, roads and public
buildings in areas of the country that were already desperately poor,"
said Guillermo Toro, Oxfam Programme Manager in Colombia. "There is an
urgent need for clean drinking water and toilets to avert a public
health catastrophe, as well as basic food items and temporary shelter
for those who have lost their homes. 

"Without a large scale international aid effort these floods will continue to destroy
the homes and livelihoods of the most poor and vulnerable in the
country. The international aid response has been inadequate. The
government has estimated that the cost of the response will be
US$5billion, so far rich countries have only given US$10.5 millionto the
aid effort," said Toro. 

Oxfam has sent response teams
to three of the worst affected regions, Córdoba, Sucre and Chocó in the
north of the country, to deliver clean water and safe sanitation. Teams
are assessing where there is most need and aims to scale up its
programmes in the coming weeks.

The Colombian government has declared a state of emergency in order to deal with the situation. 

The
flooding is being blamed on the La Niña meteorological phenomenon. La
Niña causes a fall in the water temperature of the Pacific Ocean,
sparking changing weather patterns characterized by heavy winds and
strong rains. 

Oxfam is calling for donations in order to continue with the relief effort. Donations can be made through the Oxfam UK website.

Colombia Floods Facts

  • 1'959.928 people affected
  • 60% of the territory of the country has been affected
  • 71% of the affected population live in rural areas and areas on the peripheries of cities where there was already a huge lack of basic services before the floods
  • Schools have been closed, cattle has died, health
    centres have closed, electricity and other public services have been
    suspended, houses and roads have been destroyed, new cases of malaria
    and dengue fever have been identified, and 680 thousand hectare of crops
    have been destroyed
  • Since the beginning of December there has been a 300% increase in the water levels of rivers and lakes.
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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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