UPDATED 10:45 AM PT — Friday, April 5, 2019
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee proposed a bill to provide millions of dollars in aid to Venezuela. The bipartisan group proposed the ‘VERDAD Act’ Wednesday, which would provide $200 million in aid to Venezuela and $200 million to countries accepting Venezuelan refugees. The bill will also support opposition leader Juan Guaido by removing sanctions from officials who recognize his legitimacy.
As millions of Venezuelans struggle to find food and proper medical services, human rights activists and researchers are imploring the UN to lead a full-scale emergency response within the country.
A report published Thursday by Human Rights Watch and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said Venezuela’s government has proven it is unable to handle the ongoing public health crisis within its borders.
Researchers specifically asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to issue a “complex humanitarian crisis” in the country in order to officially allow UN organizations to try and increase their aid response in the South American nation.
“If the Secretary General declares that Venezuela is a complex humanitarian emergency, the rest of the organizations that are part of the humanitarian aid must then initiate priority work to attend to this humanitarian aid. It will then depend on diplomacy and the pressure exercised at a universal level on the dictatorial regime of (Nicolas) Maduro, that this is the proposal of aid, that the offer of the United Nations will finally reach the most in need in Venezuela.”
— José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of Human Rights Watch – Americas division
Maduro’s regime has attempted to suppress the publication of health and nutritional statistics for Venezuela. Nonetheless, statistics from the Venezuelan Health Ministry in 2016 show maternal mortality rose 65-percent from 2015 and infant mortality rose 30-percent at the same time. This comes as hospitals in the country severely lack the materials necessary to treat curable diseases.
“We have seen extremely tragic cases. Patients with malign cancers and metastasis, HIV and advanced tuberculosis, who did not receive the treatment they should in Venezuela.”
— Kathleen Page, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University
The World Health Organization has reported diseases which were once thought to be almost completely eradicated from the country, such as measles and diphtheria, are now being contracted by thousands of people annually.
Furthermore, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization published a report which found that between 2015 and 2017 approximately 3.7 million Venezuelans were undernourished. This represents 12-percent of the population, which is a massive increase from the 2005 to 2013 statistics.
While international aid increased in Venezuela in 2018, the report claimed the Venezuelan government has significantly impeded the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide adequate care for the Venezuelan people. Until Maduro’s regime accepts international support, food and health care shortages will likely continue to plague Venezuela.