A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Oxfam's assessment of the damage of Saturday's earthquake to the south of Chile is now well underway. The aid agency's team of logisticians and water engineers split in two and headed for two locations – Constitución and Concepción.
Both teams are assessing the damage by talking to local authorities, firefighters involved in the rescue work and local people about the extent of the damage. They are particularly concerned about access to clean drinking water and poor sanitation facilities.
The team in Constitución yesterday visited a school which is acting as accommodation for up to 300 people. Many are sleeping in classrooms or tents in the grounds.
Speaking from Constitución, Charlie Rowley, who is heading up Oxfam's assessment team in Chile, yesterday said: "The tsunami that hit the coastal areas has done significant damage to infrastructure and we are particularly concerned about the impact to water and sanitation facilities. Shortages of water and poor sanitation are a major concern and if this is not addressed then it could, in time, have an impact on public health.
"Relief supplies are starting to reach people in the south and we have seen food and medical supplies being distributed but we believe there are still many people in need who have not received any assistance yet."
The assessment is due to be completed by the end of today. The team will then return to Santiago while the results of the assessment are considered and a decision is made on what Oxfam's response will be.