60 Countries Raise $3 Billion for Venezuelan Refugees
The pledge is an effort to help Venezuelans who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
When the Venezuelan government instituted a nationwide shutdown on March 17, citizens were already dealing with a country that has been in an economic recession since 2016. Now, 60 countries have pledged around $3.4 billion in emergency aid for Venezuelan refugees who have fled the economic crisis in their country and are now doubly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The plight of Venezuelan refugees and migrants has worsened even further,” Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, said during a virtual YouTube conference organized by Canada, Spain, Norway, the European Union, and the U.N. “The impact of COVID-19 is dramatic for countries across Latin America and the Caribbean and has pushed the Venezuelans living there into a spiral of poverty and despair.”
The U.S. pledged $200 million in assistance, which includes over $139 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans inside the country and in the region.
As NBC Latino reports, Venezuela is suffering through one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, which has spiraled under President Nicolás Maduro. The country's health care system isn't equipped for the pandemic, and there have been shortages of medications and other supplies, according to Human Rights Watch. About 1,177 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country, although Human Rights Watch believes the real number is much higher due to testing limitations and persecution of medical professionals and journalists.
“The response to COVID-19 should not jeopardize the ongoing humanitarian response,” Caritas Europa Humanitarian Director Silvia Sinibaldi told Reuters. “The combination of the two crises exacerbates the existing vulnerabilities of Venezuelan migrants and refugees.”