Dusk begins to fall over the Orinoco Delta. A brisk Atlantic breeze meets local nurse Graciela Fernandez as she takes to a canoe on what has become a solo mission: bringing medical assistance to her endangered Warao people.
Venezuela’s Red Cross all but ceased operations in 2017 in this remote part of the country. A breakdown of law and order coupled with an acute lack of funds due to the country’s economic and political crisis has meant delivering aid to communities along this part of the Orinoco has slowed to an alarming level.
Ongoing drug shortages and an exodus of trained medical professionals are having dire consequences for Warao indigenous communities. Entire villages are at risk of being wiped out as diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis go untreated. With fuel in short supply, boats taking the few supplies that are available can take up to two weeks. Graciela feels increasingly abandoned as she is forced to face this crisis alone.
It was The New Humanitarian’s investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that uncovered sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and led the World Health Organization to launch an independent review and reform its practices.
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