EU Pledges $41 Million USD in Humanitarian Aid to Venezuelans, Including Support for Colombia to Manage Migration Crisis
The European Union has pledged more than $41 million USD (€35 million) in humanitarian and development assistance intended to help Venezuelans reeling from the ongoing social and economic crisis ravaging the nation.
Some of the funding will go to help people who have fled to Colombia, where nearly a million Venezuelans are believed to now reside after years of hyperinflation, state oppression, and shortages of critical goods, including food and medicine.
The breakdown of the aid does not specify exactly how the money will be used within Colombia, but an EU statement said that some of the money will support the “socioeconomic inclusion of migrants and support for host communities in neighboring countries.”
Millions more will go to health assistance, food, water, and other needs of those still in Venezuela, but an AP report says that the EU will be funneling that money to “crisis groups working in the region, like the United Nations and Red Cross, so it doesn’t fall into the hands of Venezuelan officials.”
Nicolas Maduro remains in power in Caracas despite widespread international condemnation for what have been called sham elections by everyone from his domestic opposition to global NGOs to other heads of state, including Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. The latest May 20 election was decried as invalid and was seen as further hostility for a democracy that unraveled significantly last August when Maduro replaced the congress with a constituent assembly with the intent of rewriting the country’s constitution.
The newly pledged EU funding comes in addition to a recent U.S. commitment of $18.5 million USD to support both Venezuelans in Colombia and the country of Colombia manage the migration crisis.
Both aid packages come after Colombia ramped up requests for foreign help as it struggles to deal with the large influx of Venezuelans.
Santos has said publicly that Colombia remains grateful to Venezuela for taking in so many Colombians when their country was suffering great turmoil in the 1980s and 1990s, and that he hopes to continue to provide a refuge for those fleeing their government. But the president has also stressed that Colombia has never experienced anything like the current migration crisis and that it has begun to overwhelm the nation’s capability to respond.
Christos Stylianides, the EU’s commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, recently traveled to the Colombian border to get an up-close look at the conditions that were causing so many Venezuelans to flee their homeland.
“I saw first-hand the consequences of the crisis and its destabilizing effects in neighboring countries,” said Stylianides. “Many people are lacking crucial medicines and are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Venezuela. We cannot remain bystanders to this human tragedy.”
The announcement of the funding coincided with the opening day of the G7 summit in Canada, where leaders of the seven nations, including Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, gathered in Quebec for the start of a multi-day summit.