World News

U.S. to give additional $120 million to help Venezuelan migrants

BOGOTA (Reuters) - The United States will give an additional $120 million in humanitarian assistance to help Latin America cope with the arrival of millions of Venezuelan migrants fleeing a crushing economic crisis, the State Department said on Wednesday.

More than 4 million Venezuelans have fled their home country in recent years amid political upheaval and widespread shortages of food and medicine.

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) head Mark Green made the announcement during a visit to the border city of Cucuta, Colombia, an epicenter of arriving migrants, the State Department said in a statement.

Ivanka Trump, White House adviser and daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, is also on the visit. Colombia is the first stop on a Latin American tour that will also take her, Sullivan and Green to Argentina and Paraguay.

“This additional funding provides vital support, including emergency food and health assistance, to vulnerable Venezuelans in Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, and throughout the region,” the statement said. “This assistance brings the U.S. contribution to the Venezuelan regional crisis response to more than $376 million.”

“We salute Colombia and neighboring countries for their continued support as well, and we call upon other donors to make or increase contributions to help address the crisis,” the statement added.

Colombia has received more Venezuelan migrants than any other country - it is now home to more than 1.4 million. Hundreds of thousands of others reside in Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Brazil and other countries.

Colombia has repeatedly lamented the lack of funding to help migrants, saying other humanitarian crises in Syria, South Sudan and Myanmar have received many times more in donations from the international community.

The United States said last week it will provide 12,000 doses of antiretroviral HIV medication to Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, part of efforts to better manage healthcare for migrants and prevent the spread of the disease.

Unlike its neighbors, Colombia has not imposed stringent immigration requirements, instead encouraging migrants who entered the country informally to register with authorities so they can access social services.

The government of Colombia frequently spars with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro over security and the migration crisis.

The two countries do not maintain diplomatic relations and Colombia, along with the United States, numbers among the more than 50 countries that do not recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s president, instead backing opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota; Editing by Matthew Lewis