Left Menu
Development News Edition

Venezuela: 7 million people need aid, UN humanitarian chief says facing real problem

“The context is a severe and continuing economic contraction, with associated dramatic increases in inflation, on a scale seen in few if any other countries around the world in recent years,” Mr Lowcock explained, adding that “The scale of need is significant and growing.” 

Devdiscourse News Desk | Updated: 11-04-2019 06:18 IST | Created: 11-04-2019 06:18 IST
Venezuela: 7 million people need aid, UN humanitarian chief says facing real problem
“Our efforts are in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence,” Mr Lowcock said.   Image Credit: Twitter(@UN)

Over a month after two competing resolutions on Venezuela failed to pass, the UN Security Council met on Wednesday to discuss the "very real humanitarian problem" facing the country, where close to seven million people are in dire need of aid, and some 5,000 people continue to flee across borders every day.

Tensions in the country escalated in January this year, when Juan Guaidó, head of the country's National Assembly, challenged the legitimacy of the sitting President, Nicolás Maduro, in power since 2013 and sworn in again for a second term this past January, following an election process disputed by many in opposition.

This was the fourth meeting of the Council on Venezuela since the first one took place on 26 January. With both Russian and United States draft resolutions failing to pass in February, US Vice-President Mike Pence briefed the Council on Wednesday, calling on the UN to recognize interim leader Guaidó as the legitimate President, revoke the credentials of Venezuela's current Permanent Representative and seat Mr. Guaidó's nominee in his place "without delay". But Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the US was looking to install its own "pawn", describing the US effort as a "lawless, thuggish violation of international law".

Humanitarian overview "There is a very real humanitarian problem in Venezuela," said Mark Lowcock, the UN humanitarian chief. "We estimate that 7 million people in Venezuela need humanitarian assistance. That is some 25 per cent of the population," he added, noting that the situation further deteriorated recently given the "recurrent widespread power outages", which have hampered the capacity to deliver many services, including water and sewage systems, as well as medical care.

"The context is a severe and continuing economic contraction, with associated dramatic increases in inflation, on a scale seen in few if any other countries around the world in recent years," Mr Lowcock explained, adding that "The scale of need is significant and growing."

The UN's head of humanitarian affairs went on to present some key figures:

3.7 million are believed to have suffered from undernourishment in 2018.

2.8 million people are estimated to need health assistance.

400,000 cases of malaria were recorded in 2017, a 70 per cent increase from 2016.

17 per cent of people living in poverty have no access to safe water or receive it only once a fortnight.

2.7 million vulnerable people in the country need protection assistance.

The United Nations has been expanding its humanitarian operations, releasing US$9 million from its emergency response fund, the CERF, and increasing the number of staff in the country from 210 to 400.

"Our efforts are in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence," Mr Lowcock said.

Dr Kathleen Page, a professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine, also briefed the Council based on recent findings from the non-profit organisation Human Rights Watch. She stated that the country was facing a deep health-care crisis, with a measles epidemic that could stand at 9,300 cases, and a diphtheria outbreak that could have affected as many as 2,500 people.

'Unparalleled' flow of migrants, refugees Regarding the situation of migrants and refugees outside the country, Eduardo Stein, the Joint Special Representative of the UN refugee and migration agencies (UNHCR and IOM) described the current "population outflow" as "unparalleled in the modern history of the region." There are currently 3.7 million Venezuelans living outside of their country; 4 in 5 of them left after 2015.

"Last year Venezuelans left the country at a net rate of 5,000 per day and they continue to leave the country despite recent border closures on the Venezuelan side. If the trends in 2019 continue, we estimate that the total number of Venezuelans outside the country will exceed 5 million by the end of the year," he warned.

He listed some of the factors that are pushing people to leave, sometimes under "very dangerous conditions": insecurity and violence; lack of access to food, medicine and essential services; loss of income and lack of effective national protection systems.

As more than 20 countries are affected by these population movements, the Special Representative insisted on the importance of a harmonized multilateral approach regarding reception conditions, stay requirements, services offered by receiving countries, efforts for cultural integration, and access to rights and legal documentation.

Meetings to address these key issues have been taking place in Ecuador, with the participation of a dozen countries, several UN agencies, international cooperation agencies and financial organisations. Argentina and Paraguay have agreed to host the process hereon after.

"Despite these efforts, national capacities are increasingly strained, in some cases with the risk of denial of entry or access to regular migration schemes," deplored Mr Stein.

Five action points to ease humanitarian crisis UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock and Special Representative Stein made five keys ask the 15 members of the Council.

1. Ensure respect for principled humanitarian action: "There is a need to separate political and humanitarian objectives," said Mr. Lowcock, who stressed that humanitarian aid should be delivered "based on need alone", and that the support of the Council is needed to "safeguard the neutral and impartial nature of humanitarian action."

2. Improve humanitarian access: Recognizing recent steps taken by the Government of Venezuela to facilitate the entrance of additional humanitarian staff into the country, the UN relief chief said more organisations are needed on the ground, as well as additional data to ensure that the understanding of the needs "evolves with the situation".

3. Additional funding for more relief: Thanking Member States for the funds already provided for the humanitarian response, both Mr Lowcock and Mr Stein stressed that "a lot more" is needed given the scale of the crisis.

4. More support for migrant-receiving countries: The initiatives adopted in the multilateral meetings in Ecuador require more support, as do the States "employing open doors policies to receive, assist and host Venezuelan outflows", Mr Stein explained.

5. Remember the needs of host communities: The UNHCR-IOM Special Representative noted that, by addressing the needs of host communities too, "we can increase the impact of the humanitarian response" as well as "mitigate the possibilities of xenophobic expressions".

The US, Venezuela trade diplomatic blows

As the Member States laid out their views, the US Vice-President said that the United States had simply been "standing with the people of Venezuela" who have been "devastated by the Maduro regime", by positioning humanitarian cargo at the border and by funding humanitarian operations.

He said that "all options are on the table" for resolving the crisis, stating that the time "is up" for Mr Maduro. Mr Pence announced that the US was preparing a Security Council resolution "recognizing the legitimacy of Juan Guaidó" and he asked all UN Member States for their support, beyond the several dozen countries which have already done so since the beginning of the year.

The Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, responded by stressing that Venezuela has suffered under the weight of international sanctions and asset freezes.

"If it was true that the Venezuelan Government is killing its own people, then why is this group of countries doing everything it can to increase the suffering?" he asked, stating that the emphasis placed by the US on humanitarian needs in Venezuela was merely a "pretext of foreign military intervention" and "calculated cruelty."


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Dissecting how COVID-19 is catalyzing the trajectory of New World Order

The ensuing pandemic of COVID-19 has hit the globalization in two ways firstly, shrinking the importance of globalization as an economic force by curtailing mobility through worldwide lockdowns, and secondly, rejuvenating the idea of indig...

Domestic seafood trade in focus as COVID-19 changes market dynamics

As predicted earlier in a report titled Seafood industry post-COVID 19 An overhaul to trigger the growth of small fisheries, one of the changes going ahead would be increased focus on domestic seafood trade, driven by falling exports and su...

Migration post-COVID 19: Taking cues from the past to rebuild economies

Migrants are an irreplaceable part of even the essential workforce of developed countries and are on the frontline in the fight against the crisis, making an immeasurable contribution to saving the lives of natives with voting rights....

Socialization Post-COVID-19: Local associations and online groups to play crucial role

Though every age group is suffering due to the global lockdown caused by the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges before adolescents are unique. Their social space has shrunk drastically, besides, they have become highly vulnerable to ...

Videos

Latest News

Study shows 8,000 additional deaths in Mexican capital as coronavirus rages

Mexicos capital registered 8,072 more deaths in the first five months this year than the average from the same period over the past four years, an analysis by independent researchers showed on Monday, suggesting a possible surge due to the ...

UPDATE 1-White House brings forward Brazil travel restrictions by two days

The White House on Monday brought forward by two days restrictions on travel to the United States from Brazil that were announced after the Latin American country became the worlds No. 2 coronavirus hotspot.A White House statement amended t...

PRESS DIGEST-Financial Times - May 26

The following are the top stories in the Financial Times. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. HeadlinesVirgin Orbit rocket fails on first airborne test httpson.ft.com2LUL1WF HSBC board rethinks over...

Affinity rally for 3-on-3 win in Fusion Rocket League - NA

Affinity erased a three-game deficit to produce a shocking 4-3 win over 72 Pin Connector in three-on-three action as the Fusion Rocket Leagues North American event began Monday. In other Monday matches, Rogue got a 4-2 win over Team Envy in...

Give Feedback