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Donors pledge $ 1.5 billion for Venezuelan migrants, humanitarian crisis

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(Reuters) – More than 30 countries and two development banks on Thursday pledged more than $ 1.5 billion in grants and loans to help Venezuelan migrants fleeing a humanitarian crisis, as well as their host countries and vulnerable people still in need. place.

The $ 954 million grant announced at a donor conference hosted by Canada – which included $ 407 million pledges from the United States and $ 115 million C Canada ($ 93.12 million) from Canada – exceeded the $ 653 million announced in a similar event last year.

But that did not meet the needs of the countries that have hosted more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have fled their country since 2015, as the once-prosperous nations economy collapsed into a hyperinflationary recession for several years under Socialist President Nicolas Maduro. .

Most have moved to developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who have seen their own budgets stretched due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Does it cover all needs? Certainly not, Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters. We will need to continue to encourage donors to support the response.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry called the conference a media farce and said crippling US sanctions aimed at ousting Maduro had triggered the economic crisis and migration.

[We] urge governments and organizations participating in this apparent farce to cease their acts of political, economic and communicative aggression against Venezuela, the ministry said in a statement.

At the conference, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso announced that the country – which hosts about 430,000 Venezuelans – will begin a new process of regulating the status of migrants. This came after Colombia in February granted the 10-year protected status to the 1.8 million Venezuelans it expects.

Karina Gould, Canada’s minister for international development, said the promised amount showed donors were eager to support such efforts.

There is that recognition on behalf of the global community that needs to be supported to ensure that generosity continues and can be deepened, in host countries, Gould said.

In addition, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank pledged $ 600 million in loans to address the crisis, Gould said.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido in a tweet thanked Canada and other participants.

We must unite and join forces for a solution in Venezuela, he said.

($ 1 = C $ 1.2349)

Reporting by Luc Cohen, Michelle Nichols and David Ljunggren; Edited by Cynthia Osterman and Aurora Ellis

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