The International Committee of the Red Cross is to triple aid to Venezuela, a day after the crisis-riven country’s leader approved the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
The organization announced the increase in the face of mounting calls for the UN to recognize the scale of the crisis facing Venezuela, and amid continued moves by the Trump administration to persuade other countries to back its calls for the removal of President Nicolás Maduro.
With the health system in collapse, and food and electricity shortages now commonplace, the Maduro government has been accused of deliberately minimizing the scale of the problems facing the country even as millions have fled over its borders.
A joint report last week by Human Rights Watch and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health urged the UN to take a lead in what it described as a “complex humanitarian emergency” that demanded a “full scale” international response. The 71-page report documented rising maternal and infant deaths, the unchecked spread of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and diphtheria, and sharp increases in the transmission of malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
Peter Maurer, the ICRC president, was in Venezuela this week, the first visit to the country by the organisation’s head in a quarter of a century. “I am satisfied with the willingness of the authorities to work with us to address the humanitarian needs we have identified in a consensual way,” Maurer said in the statement.
Announcing the aid increase, the Geneva-based organization said: “The ICRC has tripled its budget for operations in Venezuela from about $9m [£6.8m] to about $24.6m.