The crisis in Venezuela is urgent and must be given a sense of urgency, said Carol Thompson O’Connell, principal deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, on October 31.
“When almost 5 million people have been forcibly displaced and have had to flee their country to find the basic necessities of life, shelters, food, water, security, there is nothing that can describe it, but urgency to face the political situation in Venezuela,” Thompson O’Connell said.
The official spoke at a telephonic press briefing about the results of the International Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan Refugee and Migrant Crisis, held in Brussels October 28-29.
“Countries in the region have been dealing with this crisis for months, and at times for years. They have done a phenomenal job in helping Venezuelan refugees and migrants. But the rest of the world must understand the magnitude of this crisis and must understand that this is not just a regional crisis. It’s a crisis that affects the countries of the rest of the world and should be treated as such,” said Thompson O’Connell.
The State Department official said the United States is proud to lead worldwide efforts to provide humanitarian assistance. During fiscal year 2019, the U.S. government contributed nearly $9.3 billion to support humanitarian crises, she said.
“When I was in Brussels, I announced an additional $10 billion in economic and development assistance that will provide treatment for HIV, critical vaccinations, and support for activities to counter human trafficking,” Thompson O’Connell added.
The aid comes in addition to the nearly $119 million in humanitarian assistance for Venezuela U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in late September.
The U.S. government’s total response to the crisis involves more than $650 million, of which almost $473 million goes to humanitarian assistance to save the lives of people affected and to promote stability in Venezuela and the region, the U.S. official said.
The United States has been the largest financial contributor to the Venezuelan crisis.
“Almost 4.5 million Venezuelans have escaped from Venezuela due to the actions of the Maduro regime,” she said.
The United States has said it is working with international and nongovernmental partners to complement the efforts of governments that receive Venezuelan refugees.
“Our system also increases the original capacity of the asylum authority and provides legal support to Venezuelans seeking asylum. The program also helps Venezuelans to integrate into the communities that host them by finding them employment and access to education and health care,” said Thompson O’Connell.
She stressed that during her recent visit to Colombia, she was able to see her assistants in action, caring for Venezuelan refugees who had arrived in the country. “I met with children in Colombia who have been able to go to school and receive an education, because access to education provides hope, and it helps children find stability and normalcy in very difficult situations.”
She also thanked European partners for their response to the crisis, and urged them to increase their support for the Venezuelan people, in response to the “tyranny of the Maduro regime.”
“This is a global crisis that requires a global solution,” she added.
The Brussels conference, she said, “demonstrates that Europeans are focused on this problem and are willing to consider new ways to try to solve the crisis Maduro caused.”