Red Cross humanitarian aid arrives in Venezuela - GulfToday

Red Cross humanitarian aid arrives in Venezuela


Juan Guaido speaks during a rally in Coro on Monday. Reuters

The first shipment of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) humanitarian aid arrived in crisis-wracked Venezuela on Tuesday following approval from President Nicolas Maduro’s government, an official said.

Meanwhile, Venezuela accused Canada of supporting US President Donald Trump’s “war adventure” on Monday after Ottawa announced new sanctions on top officials in the Maduro government.

The Lima Group made up of mostly Latin American countries called on the United Nations on Monday to “take action” to prevent an escalation of the humanitarian crisis.

The shipment, which arrived at the airport serving Caracas, includes desperately needed “medication and medical supplies,” the official confirmed on condition of anonymity.

Cardboard boxes bearing the symbols of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement were loaded by forklift onto trucks at the Maiquetia international airport, according to images shared on social media.

In a statement, Venezuela’s foreign ministry said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “has invalidated Canada as a reliable actor in dialogue.”

Earlier Monday, Canada announced new sanctions against 43 members of Maduro’s government, including Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, whom it holds “responsible for the deteriorating situation” in the crisis-wracked South American country.

The sanctions included a freeze on the individuals’ assets and a ban on them conducting business with Canada, which previously sanctioned another 70 top government officials.

The US has led the way in imposing sanctions on the Maduro regime, including state oil firm PDVSA.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland recalled how the Lima Group demanded during a meeting in Ottawa on Feb.4, that the international community take action against the Maduro regime.

“Today, Canada is taking that action by holding 43 more people accountable for their roles in worsening the situation in Venezuela.”

Caracas “categorically” opposed the new sanctions and accused Ottawa of “removing its mask.”

“It’s alliance with war criminals that have declared their intention to destroy the Venezuelan economy to inflict suffering on the people and loot the country’s riches demonstrates the hypocritical attitude of the Ottawa government in its pretentious concern for human rights,” said the foreign ministry.

The group of 14 countries, which also includes Canada, exhorted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the General Assembly and the Security Council to “take measures to avoid the progressive deterioration of peace and security, and to provide urgent humanitarian aid to the population of migrants coming from Venezuela.”

The Lima Group was created in 2017 to try to find a solution to Venezuela’s economic meltdown.

More than four years of recession have left Venezuela in crisis, with the country’s poorest residents suffering from shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

Despite this the South American country sits on the world’s largest proven oil reserves.

Most Lima Group members refused to recognise Maduro’s second term, which began on Jan.10, due to alleged fraud during his reelection last year. The speaker of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, launched a challenge to Maduro’s authority in January and has since been backed by more than 50 countries, led by the United States, that recognise him as Venezuela’s interim president.

Guaido wants to force Maduro, whom he deems to be illegitimate, from office and set up a transitional government ahead of new elections.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ended a whistlestop tour of South America on Sunday by visiting Colombia’s border with Venezuela.

There he urged Maduro to reopen the border to allow in desperately-needed humanitarian aid that has been stockpiled in the Colombian town of Cucuta for two months now.

More than 2.7 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015, according to the UN, while the International Monetary Fund says the country’s inflation will reach a staggering 10 million percent this year.

Venezuelans have been hit by repeated electricity blackouts in recent weeks while unemployment is over 44 per cent.


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