The United Nations says a humanitarian stand-off between the United States and Venezuela adds weight to calls for serious political negotiations towards finding a lasting peace in the South American country.
This after medicine and food sent by Washington to the Venezuela border with Colombia was blocked by President Nicolas Maduro‘s government.
US officials say the trucks carrying the supplies were sent at the request of the country’s opposition leader and self-proclaimed Interim President, Juan Guaido.
A tweet sent by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday complaining that Venezuela’s military had blocked the trucks and shipping tankers carrying aid from entering the country. Quote: “The Maduro regime must let the aid reach the starving people.”
The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. & other countries are trying to help, but #Venezuela’s military under Maduro's orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE. #EstamosUnidosVE pic.twitter.com/L4ysYJaM6H
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) February 6, 2019
At the UN, warnings that aid not be used for ulterior motives as the Secretary General’s Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric explained says Venezuela has a serious gap of nutrition and basic healthcare.
“When in any country there is a serious gap in terms of nutrition or basic healthcare including vaccinations that is a very serious humanitarian issue. For the UN humanitarian assistance should be needs-based and carried out in accordance with principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military, or any other objectives.”
The Maduro Government has denied that there is a humanitarian crisis in the country and blamed the dire economic situation on sanctions imposed by the United States. In a message to Washington earlier this week, Maduro offered to allow the humanitarian convoys into the country if the economic blockade imposed by the United States was lifted, adding quote: “we are not beggars.”
When we see the present standoff, it becomes even clearer that serious political negotiations between the parties are necessary to find a solution leading to lasting peace for the people of Venezuela.
What is important is that humanitarian aid be de-politicized and that the needs of the people should lead in terms of when and how humanitarian aid is used.
The US could attempt to seek UN Security Council approval for the aid deliveries, but would struggle to overcome opposition from veto wielding countries like Russia. Venezuela was also mentioned during US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Wednesday night.
“We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.”
The UN says some three million Venezuelans have fled the country due to economic hardships and a lack of access to medicines.