The situation for ordinary Venezuelans is increasingly critical but the United Nations remains committed to providing humanitarian support, based on “need, and need alone”, said a senior aid official on Friday.
Speaking to journalists in Geneva, the UN’s aid coordinating branch, OCHA, underlined that it was observing developments at Venezuela’s border with Colombia, where an aid convoy arrived on Thursday.
“On the situation at the border, the UN is monitoring that situation closely,” said Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “The ideal scenario is that humanitarian aid is provided, independent of any political or other considerations than the pure humanitarian, and that is based on need and need alone.”
‘People were coming, starving’ to Colombia
At the border, the World Food Programme(WFP) confirmed that needs are at “crisis”-like levels inside Venezuela, where opposition politician Juan Guaido declared himself interim President last month, amid deepening economic and political uncertainty.
“How can we know if people are starving or not? Just stay at the border with Colombia, and look who is coming into Colombia,” said WFP senior spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel. He said 1.2 million people had come, “starving, in Colombia with no money, no food, no medicine…Yes of course there’s a crisis in the country.”
From April to December last year, the agency provided emergency food assistance to 290,000 people in the country’s border departments of Arauca, La Guajira, Norte de Santander and Nariño.
Venezuelan migrants, Colombian returnees and host communities have been assisted, Mr Verhoosel explained, adding that the flow of migrants into Colombia is expected to rise.
Several resident UN agencies work inside Venezuela including UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the Pan-American health Organization, UNAIDS, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
In a bid to help 3.6m Venezuelans including two million children, OCHA has appealed for nearly $110 million.
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