Mon | Dec 11, 2023

US pledges over $171m in humanitarian help for Venezuelans

Published:Saturday | March 18, 2023 | 12:40 AM


The US government pledged more than US$171 million Friday for humanitarian and development projects to assist Venezuelans experiencing a variety of urgent needs at home and abroad.

Some of the money will go for food, water and sanitation efforts within the crisis-wracked country, while other funds are designated for emergency shelter, healthcare and other services for Venezuelan who have migrated to other South American nations, the US Department of State told AP.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, announced the funding during a conference in Brussels. The event is designed to raise awareness of Venezuela’s protracted economic and political crisis, which has pushed millions into poverty and driven more than seven million others to migrate, mostly within Latin America.

“We must continue to provide critical assistance to Venezuelan refugees, migrants, their host communities and those still in Venezuela,” Thomas-Greenfield said via livestream from New York. “The work we are doing together will save lives and will change lives.”

The ambassador also urged conference attendees to work together to “advance a peaceful political solution in Venezuela”.

President Nicolas Maduro’s government and Venezuela’s opposition, including the faction backed by the US, reached an agreement four months ago to fund social programmes with money drawn from the country’s assets frozen abroad. But the fund, expected to be managed by the United Nations and to progressively reach about US$3 billion, has yet to materialise.

About three-quarters of Venezuelans live on less than US$1.90 a day – the international benchmark of extreme poverty. The minimum wage paid in Venezuelan bolivars is the equivalent of US$5 a month, down from US$30 in April 2022.

Neither of those wages is enough to feed one person, let alone a family. The cost of a basic basket of goods for a family of four was estimated at US$372 in December.

A UN report published last year estimated it would cost US$795 million to help about 5.2 million people in Venezuela through health, education, water and sanitation, food and other projects.

The State Department said the funding announced Friday includes more than US$84 million from the US Agency for International Development for healthcare, food, water and other services for people in Venezuela and for emergency food assistance for Venezuelan migrants in other countries. The money will go to UN agencies and non-governmental groups already operating in Venezuela.