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Children’s charity Plan International has launched a £1.25 million appeal to help victims of devastating floods in Colombia.
Officials estimate that 2.23 million people have been affected by the heaviest rainfalls in the South American country’s history.
So far 311 people have died, 289 have been injured and 64 are missing.
“Some parts of the country have been set back 15 to 20 years,” says Plan’s Country Director in Colombia, Gabriela Bucher.
“More than 328,000 houses have been damaged and more than 5,000 have been completely destroyed.”
It’s thought only 6% of people affected have managed to find accommodation in temporary shelters.
So far the disaster is estimated to have cost the nation more than £3 billion.
Plan International is concentrating its response in Bolovar, one of the worst-hit regions in the country.
“We are working to make sure more than 16,000 people, including children, have enough food to survive on,” says Ms. Bucher.
“Some families have lost everything and many crops have been completely wiped out.”
“People also need somewhere safe and secure to stay, together with practical necessities like mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets, water-purification tablets and cooking kits,” adds Ms Bucher.
Alongside providing emergency supplies, Plan aims to protect children from abuse of any kind.
“We are in the process of developing child-friendly spaces where kids can play and learn about issues that affect them,” says Ms Bucher.
Across the country, sanitation remains poor in flood-hit areas.
Rates of acute diarrhoea, respiratory infections, dengue and malaria are rising.
Getting children back to school is also proving problematic.
852 schools have been damaged, affecting 320,000 young people.
360 educational facilities are being used as short-term shelters.
Plan International is working with the government and partner agencies in order to co-ordinate relief efforts across the country.
“We are used to flooding in Colombia, but it has never lasted so long, nor reached such a critical point,” says Ms Bucher.
The Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, is currently in Europe to try to attract international attention to the crisis.
More heavy rainfall is predicted for Colombia in February.
To donate to Plan International’s appeal for Colombia visit www.plan-uk.org/colombia or call 0800 526 848.
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Notes to editors
Plan International Colombia
- Plan has been working in Colombia since 1962, helping poor children to access their rights to health, education, livelihoods and protection. We do not have any political, governmental or religious affiliations.
- We work closely with communities so that they can organise and participate actively in solving their own problems.
- We work in 35 municipalities and directly support 140,000 boys, girls and adolescents. 700,000 families benefit from our endeavours to create opportunities for children.
Plan International UK
1) Plan was founded by British journalist John Langdon-Davies in 1937 to rescue orphans and other vulnerable children from the Spanish Civil War.
2) Today we work in 48 of the poorest countries on the planet across Africa, Asia and South America.
3) We have over 114,000 sponsors in the UK, generating £25 million a year, and 1.5 million sponsored children worldwide.
4) Our projects, including schools and health centres, are geared to working with children and their communities to help them build a better future.
5) Sponsorship starts at £15-a-month and, rather than going to individual children and their families, funds projects to improve schooling, health, nutrition and livelihoods across communities.
6) Plan UK is a member of The Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies (CBHA), a consortium of 15 leading British NGOs with an initial two-year funding of £8m from DFID to deliver appropriate, high quality, quicker humanitarian assistance to those affected by disaster.