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UN chief calls for ‘maximum restraint’ in Venezuela amid uncertainty over coup attempt reports

UN chief António Guterres is calling for both Government and opposition forces in Venezuela to exercise “maximum restraint” amid reports of a possible attempted coup, and renewed violence on the streets.

His Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists in New York that that the focus needs to be on the well-being of the people of Venezuela. He called for everything to be done to avoid violence and restore calm, and the Secretary-General said he was monitoring events closely through Tuesday, and with great concern.

UN humanitarian agencies ramped up their presence in the country over the last few months, amid strife between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim President.

Mr. Guterres has had dialogue with both sides. He met with the Venezuelan Foreign Minister last week, and on Monday with the Lima group of countries, which are supporting Mr. Guaido.

 news source: UN News (Daily Breifing)

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Some 300,000 Venezuelan children in Colombia need humanitarian assistance; UNICEF looks to boost response funding

Without increased support, the health, education and well-being of at least 327,000 children from Venezuela living as migrants and refugees in Colombia will be in jeopardy, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Monday.

“At a time when anti-migrant sentiment is growing worldwide, Colombia has generously kept its doors open to its neighbors from Venezuela,” said Paloma Escudero, UNICEF Director of Communication who has just finished a four-day visit to Cúcuta, on the Colombian side of the border with Venezuela.

The economic and political situation in Venezuela has caused an estimated 3.7 million Venezuelans to leave their homes for Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and other countries in the region.

Some 1.2 million of them are in Colombia, often living in vulnerable host communities with already overstretched resources, said UNICEF.

“As more families make the painful decision to leave their homes in Venezuela every day, it is time for the international community to step up its support and help meet their basic needs,We cannot let that generosity wear thin.”

Paloma Escudero
UNICEF Director of Communications

At the Simon Bolivar Bridge between Colombia and Venezuela, Ms. Escudero spoke to families making the trek every day to seek medical care, take their children to school, and bring food and other essential items to their families back home.

“I met a mother who has epilepsy and is eight months pregnant. She needed to come to Colombia to get her prenatal checkups and protect her health and the health of her baby,” she said. “For most families, the decision to leave is only a measure of last resort.”

Colombia also offers free education to migrant children from Venezuela. UNICEF says that more than 130,000 Venezuelan children are enrolled in schools across Colombia today, up from 30,000 in November last year. Nearly 10,000 of these students are in the border town of Cúcuta and close to 3,000 of them commute from Venezuela every day to go to school.

“I saw hundreds of students cross into Cúcuta at the crack of dawn, in pouring rain, to go to school. Such dedication to learning by parents and students alike is a lesson in commitment, perseverance and determination for all of us,” Ms. Escudero said.

UNICEF is working closely with other humanitarian agencies, national and local authorities, non-governmental organizations and communities in Colombia to provide migrant children, as well as children in host communities with health, nutrition, education and protection.

The agency is looking to boost its current response budget from $5.7 million to $29 million in the coming year to:

  • Help vaccinate more than 30,000 children;
  • Provide water, sanitation and hygiene services in schools for 13,000 children;
  • Provide 40,000 children with formal and informal learning opportunities;
  • Reach 15,000 nursing mothers with micronutrients; and
  • Reach 90,000 children and adolescents with actions to prevent and address violence, abuse and exploitation, including gender-based violence and the prevention of child recruitment.

this story was orginally posted on UN News.

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UNHCR Saddened by news of Venezuelans missing in Caribbean Sea shipwreck

  • 25 April 2019 |
  • Published in Notices

PRESS RELEASE

UNHCR Saddened By News of Venezuelans Missing in Caribbean Sea Shipwreck

Port of Spain, April 25 2019 — UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply saddened by the disappearance of 21 Venezuelans off the coast of Patos Island, in the vicinity of both Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. Reports have stated that the passengers included women and children.

“This tragic incident underscores the desperation of those forced to flee their homes, and the extraordinary difficulties faced on their journey,” said Leila Jane Nassif, UNHCR chief of mission in Trinidad and Tobago. UNHCR reiterates its thanks to and support for the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela as they continue search, rescue, and recovery efforts.

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Venezuela must guarantee judicial impartiality - UN human rights expert

As political tensions continue to escalate in Venezuela, a United Nations independent human rights expert has called on the Government to “take all necessary measures to guarantee judicial independence,” following concerns that some pressure may have been placed on the country’s justice system “to act against the political opposition”.

“All Venezuelan State institutions must respect, promote and guarantee the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, including judges and prosecutors, so that that they can maintain their independence in the face of undue pressure,” said the expert, Diego García-Sayán, who specializes in safeguarding the independence of judges and lawyers around the world. “It is essential that the Constitution and human rights treaties are respected,” he added.

“I am concerned that pressure is being put on the judicial system to act against the political opposition.”

Tensions started escalating at the end of January, when Mr. Guaidó, head of the country’s National Assembly, challenged the legitimacy of the sitting President, Nicolás Maduro, and was declared interim president by the National Assembly. President Maduro has been in power since 2013 and was sworn in again for a second term on 10 January.

"The measures taken against Guaidó and the pressure being exerted on him are unacceptable,” stated the UN human rights expert, deploring the criminal investigation that is being conducted, “as this could be politically motivated,” he explained.

Mr. García-Sayán further noted that “statements already made by Tarek William Saab, a leading supporter of the incumbent President Maduro, about the Guaidó investigation may already be affecting the legal presumption of innocence” and that "the equitable, independent and impartial administration of justice, requires prosecutors to work in a way that is fair and which avoids any discrimination.”

Mr. García-Sayán called on Venezuela to “organise its State apparatus in a way that is compatible with its international obligations to guarantee the rule of law, the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and international human rights standards”.

[ full story on UN News ]

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Tensions escalate in Venezuela, civilians killed and injured: top UN officials lament excessive use of force by authorities

As tensions escalated on Saturday at various points along Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil, as well as within the country itself, resulting in the death and injury of various civilians, the United Nations chief, António Guterres, and the head of the UN human rights office (OHCHR), Michelle Bachelet, expressed their shock and appealed for calm.

The UN Secretary-General called for violence to be “avoided at any cost and for lethal force not to be used in any circumstances”. He urged “all actors to lower tensions and pursue every effort to prevent further escalation”.

Ms. Bachelet condemned “the excessive use of force used by the Venezuelan security forces, as well the involvement of pro-government elements”, which have resulted in at least four confirmed deaths and more than 300 injuries on Friday and Saturday, according to OHCHR.

“People have been shot and killed, others have reportedly received wounds from which they will never completely recover, including losing eyes,” she deplored. “These are disgraceful scenes. The Venezuelan government must stop its forces from using excessive force against unarmed protesters and ordinary citizens.”

Ms. Bachelet said she had received reports of numerous and, in some cases prolonged, violent incidents, at different points along the borders with Colombia and Brazil, as the Venezuelan security forces tried to halt the aid supplies coming into the country through closed border points.

OHCHR also received several reports pointing at the involvement of armed pro-government elements in the violent attacks on protestors, and Bachelet urged the Government “to rein in these groups and arrest those among them who have used force against protestors”.

“The use of proxy forces has a long and sinister history in the region,” she added. “And it is very alarming to see them operating openly in this way in Venezuela. The Government can, and must, stop them from exacerbating an already highly inflammable situation.”

 

story originally posed on UN News.

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Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Venezuela

Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Venezuela - 24 February 2019.

The Secretary-General is following with increasing concern the escalation of tensions in Venezuela.  He was shocked and saddened to learn that a number of civilians lost their lives in the context of yesterday’s events.

The Secretary-General appeals for violence to be avoided at any cost and for lethal force not to be used in any circumstances. 

The Secretary-General appeals for calm and urges all actors to lower tensions and pursue every effort to prevent further escalation.

New York, 24 February 2019

Stephane Dujarric,

Spokesman for the Secretary-General


 en espanol

Declaración atribuible al Portavoz del Secretario General sobre Venezuela

El Secretario General está siguiendo con creciente preocupación la escalada de tensiones en Venezuela. Al Secretario General le ha conmocionado y apenado la pérdida de vidas de civiles en el contexto de los acontecimientos de ayer.

El Secretario General pide que se evite la violencia a toda costa y que no se utilice fuerza letal en ninguna circunstancia.

El Secretario General apela a la calma e insta a todos los actores a reducir las tensiones y hacer todo lo posible para evitar una mayor escalada.

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Venezuelan refugees now number 3.4 million; humanitarian implications massive, UN warns

As the number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela continues to rise – hitting the 3.4 million mark this month – United Nations agencies sounded the alarm on Friday over the humanitarian needs these women, children and men face, and the strain this represents for communities hosting them.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the UN migration agency (IOM) issued statements based on data from national immigration authorities and other sources, showing that, on average, in 2018, 5,000 people left Venezuela every day in search of protection or a better life. The vast majority of them – 2.7 million – are hosted in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Currently, Colombia hosts the highest number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, with over 1.1 million. It is followed by Peru, with 506,000, Chile 288,000, Ecuador 221,000, Argentina 130,000, and Brazil 96,000. Mexico and other countries in Central America and the Caribbean are also hosting significant numbers of refugees and migrants from Venezuela.

“The countries of the region have shown tremendous solidarity with refugees and migrants from Venezuela, and implemented resourceful solutions to help them,”

“But these figures underscore the strain on host communities and the continued need for support from the international community, at a time when the world’s attention is on political developments inside Venezuela,” 

Eduardo Stein" title="joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants

 To date, Latin American countries have granted about 1.3 million residence permits and other forms of regular status to Venezuelans. Asylum systems have also been reinforced in order to process an unprecedented number of applications. Since 2014, over 390,000 asylum claims have been lodged by Venezuelans – close to 60 per cent (232,000) happened in 2018 alone.

[ full story on UN News ]

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Guterres meets Venezuela Foreign Minister, reiterates humanitarian principles

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres met on Friday with Jorge Arreaza, Foreign Minister of Venezuela, reiterated that the UN acts in accordance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, working with Venezuelan institutions, to assist people in need. 

This is the third time that Minister Arreaza meets with the UN Secretary-General in just a few weeks.

During their meeting at UN headquarters in New York, they discussed the situation in the country and in the region, and Mr. Guterres urged the Venezuelan authorities not to use lethal force against demonstrators.

Amid deepening economic and political uncertainty, the UN has been supporting local institutions by providing medical kits for women and children, and aid teams are also delivering 100,000 treatments for severe acute malnutrition. Six temporary shelters have been set up in the western border states to house 1,600 people and offer them protection and information, as well as family kits containing food and clothing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that it is continuing to work with the authorities through the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), notably to prevent and control communicable and non-communicable diseases. Immunization campaigns have been carried out to halt the spread of measles and diphtheria.

In a bid to help 3.6 million Venezuelans, including 2 million children, the UN humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) has appealed for nearly $110 million.

story oringinally posted on UN News.

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UN ready to rise above political fray and help Venezuelans based ‘on need, and need alone’

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.

[ read the full story on UN News ]

 

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Secretary-General's press encounter on Venezuela

04 February 2019

I’ve been following, of course with a lot of concern, the evolution of the situation in Venezuela. There have been a number of initiatives by several groups of countries. I’ve been in contact with the protagonists of all these initiatives, but the UN Secretariat has decided not to be part of any of these groups in order to give credibility to our continued offer of good offices to the parties to be able at their request to help find a political solution to the crisis.

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