Colombia’s foreign minister said Friday that he will request a special UN envoy to coordinate humanitarian aid for Venezuelans who are massively fleeing their troubled country.
Over a million people have arrived in Colombia from Venezuela in the last 18 months, fleeing challenging social and economic problems in President Nicolas Maduro’s crisis-ridden country.
This has led to Colombia assigning millions on aid to help with food, shelter and medical assistance.
“We are going to insist on the strengthening of an emergency humanitarian fund and we are going to propose the creation of a special envoy under the United Nations who can coordinate the multilateral actions that are required because of the humanitarian crisis we are living,” Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes told reporters.
This announcement follows in the wake of a recently released report from UN refugee agency UNHCR which drew attention to complexity of dealing with such large numbers of displaced people from Venezuela.
UNHCR spokesman William Spindler stated that the exodus of Venezuelans from their country is one of Latin America’s largest mass population movements in history. It is also a dangerous perilous journey to undertake, the UN official said.
“Many of the Venezuelans are moving on foot in an odyssey of days and even weeks in precarious conditions. Many run out of resources to continue their journey and are forced to live rough and resort to begging..in order to meet their daily needs,” Spindler said.
Not only faced with food and resource shortages, many are vulnerable to other dangers.
“Women and girls represent 40 per cent of the new arrivals and face serious risks of sexual violence, in particular survival sex and trafficking. Xenophobic reactions to the exodus have been noted in some quarters,” Spindler said.
Hyperinflation and enduring food and product shortages in Venezuela has forced huge numbers to leave in search of better opportunities in neighboring countries.
On Wednesday, the United States’ ambassador the United Nations, Nikky Haley, visited a shelter for displaced in Colombia and announced a further $9 million in aid to Colombia for humanitarian aid for displaced Venezuelans.