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The UN asks the international community for help in dealing with the refugee crisis in Venezuela

August 19, 2019

BRAZIL, Aug 19 (Reuters / EP) –

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has called for more humanitarian aid on Sunday for Venezuelan refugees who are escaping to neighboring countries, where social services are collapsing and generating tension at the local level.

Grandi had planned to visit the Brazilian border town of Pacaraima this weekend. However, he has not been able to do so because the authorities have urged him to cancel his visit due to protests in the area due to the arrival of more than 500 Venezuelans a day.

During the day on Saturday, the citizens of Pacaraima closed their stores and demonstrated through the streets shouting “Outside Venezuelans”, “Pacaraima is ours”, “Outside the UN” and “Brazil for Brazilians”.

The UN and several NGOs called at the beginning of the year to collect at least 770 million dollars and, by now, have received less than 180 million, Grandi said after visiting Chile and Brazil.

“It is one of the humanitarian requests that has received less funding in the world for one of the biggest crises,” he lamented. Several financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank are committed to these organizations, although they should accelerate their assistance to help maintain health and education systems, Grandi said.

Grandi has warned that there are signs of a spread of anti-immigration sentiment in the region, which is reflected in the increasing restrictions on the movement of Venezuelans in the Andean countries.

The political crisis in Venezuela worsened on January 10, when Nicolás Maduro decided to start a second six-year term that does not recognize the opposition or much of the international community because they believe that the presidential elections of May 20, 2018 were a fraud.

In response, Guaidó proclaimed himself interim president on January 23 with the aim of ceasing “usurpation”, creating a transitional government and holding “free elections.” It has been recognized by the United States, numerous Latin American countries, as well as several Europeans, including Spain.

Meanwhile, more than 4 million Venezuelans have left the country in recent years because of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. The United Nations has warned that, if the trend continues, by the end of 2019 they could add more than 5 million. Likewise, 7 million need humanitarian assistance, which represents 25 percent of the population.